Article via Buffalo News
By Colin Dabkowski
Road Less Traveled Productions has found a new home on a well-traveled stage, in the heart of what may soon be a bustling neighborhood.
The company announced plans Wednesday to move from its 90-seat space in the former Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre into the cavernous Forbes Theatre at 512 Pearl St. in time for the opening of its 2015-16 season in September.
The one-year deal between Road Less Traveled and building owner Ellicott Development comes five months after city officials announced the sale of the Market Arcade to an Amherst investment group with plans to convert it into an eight-screen AMC Theatre.
Road Less Traveled’s move also is the first public phase of an ambitious development plan for the neighborhood that Ellicott Development CEO William A. Paladino hinted would involve several of the company’s properties on the edge of the Theatre District. Paladino said the company would officially unveil its plans in the next month for the neighborhood and the building.
The building, which also includes a roller rink and pool, was formerly owned by the Buffalo Christian Center, which sold it six months ago after estimating that it needed about $5 million in repairs. Though the building is structurally solid, there are signs of water damage on the ceiling of the auditorium where whole swaths of paint have peeled off.
“I’m very grateful to Bill for even considering having us, because we’ve been looking for a while and this is not an easy time,” Road Less Traveled co-founder and Artistic Director Scott C. Behrend said, noting that the cost per square foot in the Theatre District area has already become prohibitive for many smaller organizations.
For Paladino, the initial reason for purchasing the building had less to do with its innate charm or adaptability than it did with its adjoining parking lot.
“That was our main motivation originally, but then as we got into the building more, it’s pretty unique,” he said. “We thought, with some other ideas we have, which we’re going to announce probably in the next 30 days, this building would fit in very well and be a very complementary component to what we do here.”
Paladino said he talked with several theater companies and other businesses about anchoring the space before settling on Road Less Traveled, praising the company for its 13-year track record.
“They’re very passionate and driven about what they’re doing,” he said. “They’re organized, they’ve been around for a while, and hearing all that means that they could readily evolve into this space and take themselves to another level. … Some of the other people we met with, they just didn’t seem like they had that type of structure in place.”