Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Cleveland's Playhouse Square: A Model for Economic Vitality--In The Wall Street Journal

In a time when arts organizations all over and Cleveland itself is hurting badly, Cleveland's main theater district thrives as an integrated real estate developer- extracting the value it's own theaters bring and building on it through property development.

"What makes PlayhouseSquare unique is that it not only renovated and manages the performance spaces—including the five historic theaters (the Ohio, the Palace, the State, the Allen and the Hanna) that otherwise would have been bulldozed for parking lots—but it also created a local development corporation that owns more than 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space inhabited by more than 3,000 workers in five buildings; developed the 205-room Wyndham Cleveland Hotel; and manages an additional million square feet of real estate throughout the Cleveland metropolitan area.

Its budget of more than $60 million puts it ahead of the better-endowed Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Museum of Art. Two-thirds of PlayhouseSquare's annual budget supports the performing arts. One-third is reinvested in its real-estate ventures.

"The real-estate business is a working endowment for the theaters," said Gina Vernaci, vice president of theatricals for PlayhouseSquare. "The stages feed the neighborhood's excitement and vice-versa," she added. "People who work down here now think about PlayhouseSquare as a campus."

Playhouse Square on Wikipedia

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