New Players Center for Performing Arts Theatre will anchor Waterside’s town center.
On Monday evening at Michael’s Wine Cellar in Sarasota, Players Theatre CEO Michelle Bianchi Pingel announced a new act for “that old theater.”
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch has forged a deal, signed Monday morning, to bring The Players Centre For Performing Arts to the new Waterside at Lakewood Ranch development.
Bianchi Pingel said the current Players Theatre property, at 838 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, has been put on the market for $12.5 million. The 1.77-acre parcel has what Bianchi Pingel said is the “last unobstructed view of the bay.”
The Players Theatre owns the property outright, so the money for the sale will be used to buy a 4.5-acre parcel and build in what will become Waterside’s town center.
“This is the entertainment venue we’ve been longing for,” said Schroeder-Manatee Ranch President and CEO Rex Jensen. “This is going to spark our town center. It will add to the kind of lifestyle we offer.”
Jensen said The Players Theatre was a perfect fit for the new community.
“We could have attracted a lot of (theaters) if we wanted to pay for everything,” Jensen said. “This one is a premier theater that has been around for (86) years. It has viability and durability. It is gratifying for us to get this quality of an organization.”
Players Artistic Director Jeffery Kin outlined some key points for those who attended the press conference, which also announced the theater was starting a $25 million capital fundraising campaign.
Kin said the theater’s current property will be attractive to builders, who can go 18 stories high in construction in the front of the parcel and up to five stories in the back overlooking the water. The money from the sale is needed because the Lakewood Ranch property is ambitious.
The land purchase is $750,000 and the estimated cost of construction of The Players Centre for Performing Arts is $8 million to $12 million. The new building, which Bianchi Pingel said would be approximately 55,000 square feet, will house a 480-seat main stage auditorium with balcony seating, a 125-seat “Black BoxTheatre,” a 100-seat cabaret theatre that will serve lunch and dinner and the main campus of The Arnold Simonsen Players Studio, which is the education art of the organization. The land will include 300 parking spaces.
Jensen said Schroeder-Manatee Ranch is ready to host The Players, who have not chosen an architect yet for the project. “We now have 24,000 residents on site,” he said of the Lakewood Ranch community.