SAN DIEGO — After scraping away the remaining indoor/outdoor carpeting, painting the walls and cleaning up, the California Performing Arts Centre unveiled a model and plans for a temporary theater in the Palisade Garden Roller Skating Rink in North Park.
But staffers and the arts center director, Martin Gregg, said at a press conference Monday that they now need to raise money and rally community support. They want to purchase the North Park Theatre, across the street from the roller rink. If they don't come up with $1.5 million for the theater by spring, they may find themselves homeless.
The arts center is turning the rink, which it is now occupying, into an auditorium. The building, which has 13,000 square feet of its original hardwood floors, will be its home only until March or April, when the structure will be torn down. A four-story office complex will be built there.
The California Performing Arts Centre started in 1980 and is dedicated to establishing a performing arts site in North Park. It has since put on performances in various theaters in San Diego. It spent a year in the North Park Theatre, but moved out in July to save money on rent.
In the meantime, architects Mike Shanahan and Margo Curtis have designed a versatile stage and seating that can be easily changed to form different settings and can even be transported to a new location when the building closes, Shanahan said. Much of the building supplies have been donated, and Gregg estimates that the renovation will wind up costing the center $5,000.
The North Park Theatre, owned by a fundamentalist church, will cost the organization $1.5 million, according to the arts center.
"I think the secret to raising the money is motivating the community," Gregg said. "We have to also motivate people outside of the community in order to get the support we need."
During the conference, Jeff Marston, an aide to Councilwoman Gloria McColl, told the arts center staff that the city may also be interested in purchasing the theater, built in 1928. He said McColl recently submitted a request to the city manager to recommend that the council buy the theater with federal funds.
After the conference, Gregg said it might be to the center's advantage if the city bought the North Park Theatre.
"I think if we can get it together and draw up an impressive business plan, they might let us lease it," he said.
Karen Arter, director of the North Park Business Assn., said she would also like to see the building remain as a theater.
"We would like to see the theater used as a town meeting place, a sort of city hall," she said.
But what if the arts center finds itself homeless in the spring?
"We are committed to this area," said Rosann Muller, theater arts administrator for the center. "We're perfectly located here and if we have to do without a home for our organization, we could work under an umbrella organization."