Tampa's Stageworks Theatre becomes a homeowner

Tampa’s Stageworks Theatre begins the new year as a first-time homeowner thanks to a donation from a developer that helped transform the Channel District from an industrial district to a mixed-use hub of activity. 

While selling off the retail and office space of its Grand Central at Kennedy development last year, Mercury Advisors set aside the 99-seat first-floor theater it has leased to Stageworks since 2012 to donate to the theater company.

“They specifically held our space out of that sale because they wanted to make sure that the future of Stageworks was secure,” says Karla Hartley, Stageworks’ producing artistic director. 

Prior to settling into its Channel District home a decade ago with what Hartley describes as “a very very favorable lease,” Stageworks performed around Tampa at venues that included an Ybor City storefront, Hillsborough Community College, the University of Tampa’s Faulk Theatre and the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.  The Grand Central at Kennedy location brought stability. Now, as Stageworks, Tampa’s longest-running professional theater company, celebrates its 40th anniversary, ownership of the theater gives a solid foundation to build on.

“We’ve developed a five-year strategic plan and having the collateral that this space represents, if we should decide to expand in some way, will be very helpful for the future,” Hartley says.

The theater donation is valued at $2.45 million. The Tampa-based Frank E. Duckwall Foundation, Inc. also gave Stageworks a $10,000 grant to convert to more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly LED stage lighting. 

“We are trying very hard to be more green so that gift from the Duckwall Foundation is very important,” Hartley says. “It allows us to keep up with technology because we built the space 10 years ago and installed the lights 10 years ago.”

The dual donations will be another reason for celebration when Stageworks marks its 40th anniversary at its annual gala on February 4th. Preparing for the event, Hartley says the theater company is poring through hundreds of hours of archival footage to compile a video presentation honoring Stageworks’ past.

“We really want to honor the past but look to the future,” she says. “These two gifts combined give us a great start in that.”

Stageworks’ next presentation, “The Smell of the Kill,” opens February 10th. 

For more information, go to Stageworks Theatre.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.