ENCINITAS — The prospects of North Coast Repertory Theatre building its home at the Encinitas Ranch Town Center are dwindling, as the developers haven’t approved the theater group’s request to build a bigger theater.
The City Council on June 20 granted the Solana Beach-based theater group’s request for an extension of its exclusive negotiating agreement between the city and the group to give it time to convince the Town Center’s developers to increase the size of the theater building from 15,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet.
But an email to The Coast News from Marc Tayer, chair of North Coast Rep’s New Venue Committee, casts doubt on the likelihood an agreement can be reached.
“The current limit of 15,000 square feet is too much of a compromise to build our vision of a state-of-the-art North County theatre and theatre school for current and subsequent generations,” Tayer wrote. “We have not completely given up on this site, but if we can’t build it there due to size constraints, we will look at alternative sites.”
The company, known as “The Rep,” would be the latest in a series of theater groups to try — and fail — to build a performing arts center on the 0.7-acre property that was earmarked for such a use in 1994, as part of the City Council’s approval of the Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan.
In May 2015, Intrepid Theatre Company and the City Council entered into exclusive negotiating rights with Intrepid to move forward with the plans.
A year later, Intrepid and the city halted negotiations after the plans fell through and Intrepid moved its operations to downtown San Diego.
The theater group originally approached the city in October 2016 when Steve Horine, a developer who it has retained as a consultant, made a 15-minute presentation that laid out the group’s plans for a 350-seat theater at the Town Center site.
Founded in 1982 and boasting an annual budget of $2.5 million, the company just needed to receive the city’s blessing of the plans to start fundraising on its end, Horine said at the time.
By February 2017, the City Council gave City Manager Karen Brust the blessing to enter into a similar negotiating agreement. The two groups signed the agreement in October 2017, and it was set to expire June 30 before the council’s granting more time.
Tayer’s statement concluded by saying that The Rep continues its long run of providing entertainment in its current Solana Beach location.
“Meanwhile, our current theatre in Solana Beach, while limited in size and functionality, is experiencing another banner year of outstanding performances with high attendance and critical acclaim,” he said.
The Coast News reached out to representatives from the Encinitas Ranch Town Center and had not heard back by the time of publication.