RANCHO SANTA FE REVIEW - NOVEMBER 3, 2016 - PAGE A25
North Coast Rep looks to build at Encinitas shopping center BY BARBARA HENRY The award-winning North Coast Repertory Theatre company wants to move out of its small shopping center home in Solana Beach and build its own performance space on vacant land within the Encinitas Ranch shopping center. The group made its pitch recently to the Encinitas City Council, which has been waiting for years for the site to be developed. The weed-covered spot, which is tucked between a Chase bank branch and an Aaron Brothers Art & Framing business, has been the subject of at least six theater proposals in 20 years — none of which have ultimately panned out. Even North Coast Rep eyed the place more than a decade ago before turning to Solana Beach. The time for the Encinitas project is now, representatives of the group said. “Our vision for the future is to be a destination theater in Southern California with two state-of-the-art theater spaces and a thriving theater school,” said Steve Horine, the theater company’s development consultant. Council members said they would be thrilled to add the theater to the town’s list of attractions and agreed to start a process that could lead to a long-term lease for the 7-acre, city-owned lot. “It would be great to have you in a bigger space,” Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer, a frequent patron of North Coast Rep performances, told theater officials. Mayor Kristin Gaspar said she hoped this was the very last time that city leaders became excited about a theater proposal for that property. Most recently, Intrepid Theatre Co. entered into inclusive negotiations with the city in mid-2015, hoping to build a 130-seat theater on the site. The company was initially proposing to start with a $350,000 structure and then expand later. Later, Intrepid supporters found that construction costs were going to be far higher than they hoped and their negotiations with the city have been discontinued, Gaspar said. Horine stressed to the City Council that North Coast Rep will have the money to make its project happen, mentioning that it had a
FROM PICOULT, A5 because it’s hard and messy and scary and, most importantly, because I didn’t have to. That, in itself – that silence – is privilege.” The audience was riveted as Picoult shared the stories of the women she met at a Racial Justice Workshop. She spent more than 100 hours interviewing these women, many of whom became the “sensitivity readers” for her manuscript to make sure the characters and their experiences rang true. “I should not and could not have written the book without them, and I’m so grateful to them,” said Picoult. She also met with skinheads and discovered that the white supremacy movement has actually grown and that its members no longer have shaved heads. “They look like us,” she said. “And they’re mostly ferreting out online ways to create and incite fear. They’re preparing for the racial holy war and stockpiling weapons in
$5 million naming donor lined up and expected various fundraising matching donations during the campaign. The plans call for a roughly $15 million structure, he said. The company, which was founded in 1982, is already well on its way to becoming a regional attraction and has an annual budget of $2.5 million, he said. However, its future potential is hampered by its limited performance space, he added. Tucked into the Lomas Santa Fe Plaza shopping center just east of Interstate 5, North Coast Rep has a 194-seat theater — it’s delicately referred to as an “intimate” performance space on the organization’s web site. The group had planned to relocate into the long-proposed and ultimately abandoned Cedros Crossing development — a housing, retail and parking project proposed by North County Transit District for land it owns in Solana Beach’s downtown. Since that project’s been derailed by community opposition, Horine said North Coast Rep is looking outside Solana Beach for a new home. After his presentation, council members decided to reactivate their theater negotiating subcommittee in order to explore a lease agreement with the theater company. Any proposed agreement would later need to return to the full council for approval. A group of North Coast Rep board members, including president Sharon Stein, attended the recent meeting but didn’t speak to the council on the issue. Encinitas resident Donna Westbrook, a frequent City Council meeting attendee, told the council that Measure T — a city-sponsored, housing measure on November ballot — mentions the theater pad as one of a group of options for future mixed-use housing projects. She said city leaders ought to be telling people to vote no on that ballot measure, if they’re considering allowing a theater on the site. Council members and a city planner responded that the ballot measure offers options for additional housing and doesn’t commit Encinitas to building homes on those properties. — Barbara Henry is a freelance writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune places like New Hampshire, where I live, and North Dakota.” Picoult said she can’t overstate how much she learned as a human being while doing research for “Great Small Things,” and that fact seemed to perfectly illustrate the importance of Words Alive. With almost one fifth of San Diegans falling into the category of illiterate or functionally illiterate, the organization’s mission is more vital than ever. “It’s always such an honor to have an author of Ms. Picoult’s distinction joining us,” said Patrick Stewart, executive director of Words Alive. “To connect our mission of making reading matter in our community with artists who, truly, make reading matter globally, really reinforces what we’re all collectively trying to achieve.” For more information on Words Alive, visit www.wordsalive.org. “Great Small Things” can be found on amazon.com. For more on Jodi Picoult, visit www.jodipicoult.com.
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