Florida Repertory theatre purchases historic Arcade Theatre, Bradford block

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Credit: Florida Rep. Theatre

Florida Repertory Theatre’s leadership and Board of Directors announced Wednesday it has purchased the Bradford block in downtown Fort Myers, which contains the Historic Arcade Theatre, ArtStage Studio Theatre, and other Florida Rep facilities, as well as the parking lot across Bay Street.

According to a press release, the purchase was made possible by gifts from a group of anonymous donors, given solely for the company to purchase the property. The acquisition secures the company’s future into its next twenty-one years and beyond.

“For the first time in our twenty-one-year history, we will own the theatre and the parking lot,” said Florida Rep Board Chairman Marc Laviolette. “It gives us the self-determination which we never had and the opportunity to apply for grant dollars that were unavailable because we didn’t own our facility.”

Historic photo of the Bradford building in downtown Fort Myers.

In addition to the theatre’s two stages, other facilities, and the parking lot, the Bradford block contains twenty commercial units and forty-two residential units. Florida Rep currently rents twelve of the residential units for visiting artists working at the theatre.

The news release also says, talks with Bill Smith, Inc., the longtime owner of the downtown property, began in early 2019 and progressed smoothly throughout the due diligence and contracting process. “We are so pleased to be able to work with the Smith family to do this deal,” Longenhagen said.

The anonymous donors made clear that the donated funds only be used for the purchase of the site.

“This purchase is so important because, while Florida Rep has always been strong, its future was never fully secure because we didn’t own the Arcade and ArtStage Theatres or the parking lot,” said Board Chairman Laviolette. “Now we no longer have to worry about that.”

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