I’ve made an appointment to look over the property tomorrow morning at 9. Silva, my godmother, (and possibly a realtor friend), are also coming. According to Mr. Dempsey, the realtor in charge of the sale, the property comes with all of its equipment, it won’t be gutted. (Which is good, as that kind of thing is obscenely expensive, and would make the space exceptionally painful to get working as a cinema again).
Oliver’s been helping me poke at the place as much as can be done on-line and tonight I got the realtor to confirm that the licenses are indeed weird. Instead of being zoned as a Commercial space, it’s zoned for multi-family residential, which means the license is currently non-conforming, (this is so perfect is sort of hurts my brain). As long as I keep operating as a theatre without a break of more than 6 months the non-conforming use can continue indefinitely and I may get to legally live in it. Jack Dempsey says it’s entirely likely I could just move in without the city being able to complain. Also, he thinks the building may have actually been built in the twenties, not the 50’s as initially supposed, so there’s a good chance that the building has been grandfathered enough that it doesn’t have to be up to code. (Which is almost more exciting than legally-living-there VS illegally-living-there, ’cause we all know I will either way, right?). That last bit of information is a little too shaky for me to trust on faith, if only because it all sounds too good to be true, so I’m going to be looking more into that after I take my actual peek through the building tomorrow. I don’t know about licenses for live performance yet, but I’ll be asking. (Course, if you know, pipe up. “For a good time, call me”).
More good news: The current owner of the building owns a string of other businesses and is selling this one because apparently he’s simply too busy to keep a handle on it and his other theaters and his pharmacy. He’s not sloughing off a bankrupting business because it’s drowned under debt or liens. Tax, I’m told, is $1400, though I don’t know enough to know what that means yet. I feel safe assuming it has nothing to do with the business and everything to do with the land. Hydro, operating costs, etcetera, he couldn’t give me over the phone, as the owner of the property hasn’t called him back yet, but the realtor says he can get them to me easily enough.I’m hoping to look at the place’s last three months of numbers with an accountant who can tell me what they mean. (If anyone is or knows of a good accountant who can help, that would be grand, all I have are lawyers). Educated guesses are telling me that the cost will very likely be something akin to $5000 a month. However, the realtor tells me that there’s some flexibility regarding the price, though not much. The property went up for sale about a year ago with a list price of over a million dollars. No one bit. This time, though, now that it’s nominally cheaper, there’s a few people looking interestedly, one of which who wants to do the similar things as I do, so now it’s a bit of a race. If I can show up with a good bid before he can raise his financing, I’ll win.
All of this essentially means one thing; I was right, my biggest hurdle will be the actual purchase.
However, with some help, I’ve found out how to do it.
Here’s the trick: Find someone, (a personal investor, a corporation, whatever), with money and have them completely buy it, 100%, in agreement that I will pay them back for all of it, (slower than if it were through a large down-payment), but only end up owning a little over half. I take care of the taxes, the etceteras, and I make the venue work. I run the place and eventually pay them back. That way they’re completely guaranteed. Even if I default and fail to pay them back, they still own a considerable asset, one that will be worth more by then from all the work I’ll have put in. Me and, of course, all you lovely people who will have been paid in shares of the company. (I’ve been told that that’s how a teenage fantasy artist in Seattle became a millionaire. She painted the original Magic Cards, you see, but the company was too tiny and broke to pay her in cash then, so they paid her in shares. Now, I’m not hoping to be as grand and lucky as all that, but hey, maybe they’ll be worth box seats). As to cash-flow, I’ve got enough people lined up who’re willing to perform pro bono or pay for the privilege of walking the boards at the old New York that I’m pretty sure I can run a month of entertainment for practically free. This, of course, tells me nothing about the numbers, but I guess I’ll find out soon enough how much I’ll have to make monthly to keep it viable. Until then, I don’t want to plan too far ahead, if you know what I mean.
Basically the investor, they get all their money back, I get the controlling share, and we both get a really awesome venue which eventually should provide some income, which makes it more in their interest to help me out and keep me involved.
I was thinking of pitching that to someone like Electronic Arts, some Big Money that wants to be cool, though they’re not, maybe, the best first choice. Alex Peake suggested Relic, as apparently they go in for the movie thing. That’s the next step after tomorrow, finding appropriate money-lenders. That and writing out the business plan.
Happen to know anyone filthy rich and friendly to young, emerging arts types? Grants take too long to be useful now Those are for later, once I’m lucky enough to have scary gobs of debt to pay off.
Related: there’s going to be a public hearing regarding the plan to turn the Vogue Theatre into a dinner club & bar.
On a lighter note, one less insane and probably more conversational, here’s a Chapman Stick video I had on earlier.