B Street Theatre, a Sacramento institution, is within sight of the finish line to pay for its new home. It’s asking the City Council for $2.5 million, a final piece to finance the $25.7 million project.
Council members should give the theater that pledge Thursday night. It’s a good investment in the arts community and in midtown, and it’s the kind of public-private partnership that benefits Sacramento.
The $2.5 million – a loan that would be forgiven over 20 years – would come from a contingency account funded by the sale of city land at Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue.
Importantly, B Street would not get the city money until the rest of the financing is rock-solid – $8.6 million in federal tax credits that are scheduled to be awarded next February, plus an $8.4 million loan from the state’s infrastructure and economic development bank that was conditionally approved in May. The theater plans to repay debt mostly from surcharges on tickets.
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Since starting in 1986, B Street has become popular and critically acclaimed, selling about 95,000 tickets and introducing about 200,000 school kids to live theater each year. It has outgrown its home on B Street, where performances are sometimes spoiled by noise from passing trains.
Plans call for a 250-seat main theater and a 365-seat secondary stage for children’s plays. The new complex is on land worth $6 million donated by Sutter Health near its new main medical campus at 27th Street and Capitol Avenue. Sutter is also pledging $50,000 a year to help pay operating costs.
The more spacious digs would allow B Street to serve 35,000 more children and families a year, officials say. Besides the construction jobs, visitor spending is projected to increase by $625,000 a year.
These days, attention is focused on the arena rising from Downtown Plaza and the revitalization of surrounding areas. That’s crucial to Sacramento’s prosperity. So is a thriving performing arts scene – and a new home for B Street Theatre is an integral part of that.