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Foreclosed historic playhouse to reopen

A historic theater in New Hope, Pennsylvania, that fell into foreclosure has been purchased by an area couple looking to bring it back to its glory days.

The new owners hope the property acquisition will give new life to the Bucks County Playhouse, which they intend to reopen by summer. Its most recent owner operated it for more than three decades until 2010, when the bank that carried the mortgage foreclosed on the property. While the purchase price was not disclosed, an agent for the bank said the couple paid less than $2.1 million. The property originally carried an asking price of $2.79 million.

The new owners bought the property through their nonprofit foundation. Together with the Bucks County Playhouse Conservancy, which will manage the facility, they have about $2 million to make essential repairs, such as adding a fire alarm and replacing the roof. The groups likely will launch a fund-raising campaign to pay for more enhancements.

The theater has a storied past. It started in 1939, when a collection of area theater fans and artists converted an 18th century mill into a theater. Their goal was to bring high-caliber performing arts to Bucks County, known at the time as a summer and weekend retreat for New Yorkers. A variety of prominent actors, from Robert Redford to Grace Kelly, took the stage at the playhouse throughout the years.

While the summer schedule will not be announced until early 2012, leaders, according to news reports, plan to fill the Bucks County Playhouse with musicals, plays, solo performances and speakers. Plans also call for theater camps and a children's theater.

The acquisition of the playhouse shows what can be done when responsible buyers and banks work together to get a transaction completed. Experienced real estate attorneys can play an essential role in getting a commercial real estate transaction completed.

Sources: Philadelphia Inquirer, "Bucks County couple save historic New Hope playhouse," Claudia Vargas, Dec. 27, 2011

1 Comment

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