The Show on KJZZ

Listen live weekdays at 9 a.m.

Phoenix Theatre Company buys 2nd apartment complex to house visiting creatives

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Thursday, August 3, 2023 - 3:37pm
Updated: Friday, August 4, 2023 - 9:51am

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.79 MB)

Phoenix Theatre Co. apartments
Amy Wolff Public Relations
The Element was purchased by Phoenix Theatre Company and will be transformed into a mixed-use, 36-unit complex housing visiting creatives as well as renters not connected to the theater.

With an eye on the future, the Phoenix Theatre Company has purchased a second downtown apartment complex.

The addition of the 36-unit building coincides with main-stage expansion of the Hormel Theatre into a 500-seat, state-of-the-art facility, which will showcase larger productions and draw out-of-market talent who need temporary lodging.

More visiting writers, directors, set designers, stage hands, musicians, singers and actors are expected to arrive in the Valley as the Phoenix Theatre Company focuses its future on bringing pre-Broadway shows to the stage.

“The need to bring in outside artists to augment the local artist pool of folks that work with us here—that need is greater, because we’re producing more shows. They’re bigger shows. We’re on more stages. So, the timing was right and we found the right building,” said executive director Vincent VanVleet, who believes the company has the opportunity to act as a pipeline to Broadway.  

Future is pre-Broadway

“The truth of the matter is, all shows that end up in New York start at a regional theater, and Phoenix doesn’t have a regional theater that is doing pre-Broadway work, and we are seeking to be that company. That’s our vision for the future,” he said.

And while those creatives could stay at a hotel, VanVleet said “Finding a hotel with a kitchen is a different thing altogether.”

“This is the ideal time for us to purchase another building. With the groundbreaking of a new 500-seat theater just weeks away, and a renewed focus on bringing pre-Broadway work to the Valley, it is essential we have housing to accommodate the creatives that come along with these exciting new projects,” said Michael Barnard, producing artistic director at the Company, in a separate release.

Multipurpose housing

“In addition to housing talent and creative members of the theater community from across the U.S., the apartment complex will also serve as a revenue source for the nonprofit organization, with more than half of the units housing Valley residents,” the same release stated.

“In the past, we have often had to use short-term rentals, or Airbnb, to house talent who have come from other states, but unfortunately this comes at a significant cost to the theater," Matt Schaefer, managing director at the Company, explained. "It is challenging to navigate logistics for rehearsals and performances when a show’s cast is spread across the Valley. This new housing complex helps alleviate a lot of those headaches.”

“The new apartments will also serve as housing for future apprentices. Each year, more than a dozen recent college graduates from across the U.S. compete for the opportunity to participate in a yearlong, hands-on learning opportunity with the theater. They work directly with tradespeople to put into practice what they learned in school, including lighting, sound, scenic design, costume design and more,” according to the release.

More stories from KJZZ

Business Arts + Entertainment Housing