The Sussex Borough Council on July 21 took the first steps toward renting out the Crescent Theatre building to a theater group by taking a look at a boilerplate lease for a possible future tenant.
The council has previously expressed a desire to keep the empty building, the former home of the Cornerstone Theatre Group, as a community theater.
“The borough does not have a tenant for the building,” Councilman Charles Fronheiser said. “We are putting a lease together so we can have this lease ready. We do not have a tenant. I want to make sure everyone understands that.”
According to the discussion, the tenant would manage the building and could – in addition to putting on its own productions – also bring in other theatrical entertainment.
Mayor Edward Meyer said under the previous lease agreement, the tenant could bring in an outside group for a week with permission from the township administrator, but anything longer than that needed permission from the council.
Councilman Mario Poggi said a tenant should not be able to sublease the facility to another group, but they could present outside acts.
“Everything should be done under the master group’s name,” Poggi said. “Even if they brought in another group, it would be the master group controlling that and presenting them. They do their shows and then leave.”
The rental cost and lease duration have not been determined.
The council also discussed what the responsibilities would be for both the tenant and the borough itself. In addition to rent, tenants would be expected to pay the cost of managing the building – electricity, water, sewer, etc. – while the borough would be responsible for the building’s infrastructure.
The building needs work, including a roof replacement; it also lacks insulation.
“If we do get a tenant in, we can start applying for grants to help us repair the building,” Fronheiser said. “See, that’s what we need. We need to tell them to help us get the grants and work with us to get the grants to have the money to fix the building.”
Poggi agreed, saying it’s important for any tenant to understand that their role is also to partner with the borough to get grants.
“They need to understand that before they even take the premises,” he said.