Stage Crafters Community Theatre to remain in current location permanently after negotiating with the city

Last Tuesday, the Fort Walton Beach City Council approved (6-1) the purchase agreement between the city and Stage Crafters Community Theatre for the property at 40 Robinwood Drive in Fort Walton Beach. 

  • This purchase agreement ensures that the 50-year-old volunteer organization remains in the community. 

A few years ago, the City of Fort Walton Beach was directed by the city council to begin renegotiating leases to get them closer to the current market rate. Since Stage Crafters’ lease was set to expire in 2024, this meant renegotiating with the not-for-profit as well.

  • Stage Crafters has been paying $100/mo to the city for rent.
  • The new rent would have been $2,000/mo. 

After Stage Crafters received the letter, they asked the city to help them negotiate terms for a full-property buyout.

The City of Fort Walton Beach, Realty House Commercial Properties, and Stage Crafters worked together to negotiate a $220,000 purchase price contingent upon them getting an IMPACT100 grant. Unfortunately, they did not receive this grant.

Stage Crafters then requested a renegotiation to only pay for the land, since they built (and financed) the building that they current operate out of back in the 70’s. The new deal valued the land at $125,000.

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On Tuesday, City Council approved the deal with City Manager Michael Beedie citing the beneficial partnership with the organization.

  • “Now, they have a permanent spot,” he said. “They can stay here for another 50 years or more and help the community out.”

As part of the purchase agreement, Stage Crafters offered to throw in another $40,000 to help the city upgrade the auditorium next to city hall. This not only benefits Stage Crafters since they heavily utilize the auditorium, but it benefits the city as well.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Stage Crafters has invested heavily in the city’s auditorium. They previously installed a $75,000 lighting system and, on average, spend $13,165 each year on rental fees. 

“More than 90% of our average annual budget of ~$120,000 is returned to the local community through auditorium rental, utilities, purchases of set construction materials, printing, props, costumes, and other theatrical production needs,” said Dr. Craig M. Ewing, business manager for the theatre.

“It’s a win-win,” said Beedie. “It’s not all about money all of the time. It’s also about quality of life, and Stage Crafters brings that quality of life, that community feel, to the city.”

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