Lakeshore Arts Alliance And Owner Of The Red Barn Theatre Property Terminate Lease Early
In a surprising move, the Lakeshore Arts Alliance (LAA) has agreed to an early termination of its lease with the owner of the Red Barn Theatre property.
LAA is now seeking other venues in the Saugatuck/Douglas area to hold its plays, old-time television shows and other events, according to LAA Board Member Patricia Huyge.
The LAA’s lease was not set to expire until 2015 and its board members - inlcuding John and Pat Huyge - have for the past several months been publicly discussing plans for various fundraising events in 2014 to be held at the Red Barn in an effort to purchase the barn and land now owned by RB Land Holding LLC with its principal Ralph Baker.
A recent press release from LAA states:
“We want to take a moment to inform you and the public about a significant change at the historical Red Barn property, originally part of the Belvedere farm.
“The owner of the property has chosen a new direction for his business; one that conflicts with the Lakeshore Arts Alliance. We have restored code compliance, made ADA accessible, occupied and taken care of the Historic Red Barn Theatre for 8 years. We have stayed true to the intent of the space by presenting a wide variety of programs and we are going to continue to provide that service to the lakeshore community.
“We are looking at several venues for the long term and have made arrangements with the Masonic Lodge, 3150 Blue Star Highway, to lease their space for the presentation of Pigeon Creek Shakespeare’s production of Moliere’s TARTUFFE on January 25 at 7:30 p.m. The show is a wonderful farce, and Pigeon Creek is a talented, professional group. Please call us at (269) 857-5300 if you would like to reserve seats, or have any questions that we can answer for you.
“The Board of the LAA is very excited about the future – we look forward to providing a grand slate of great shows this season and for many more to come. Meanwhile, our current website www.redbarnsaugatuck.com will regularly update the information about our new venue and our season.
“Thank you for your continued support.”
LAA board members include John Huyge, Lynda Sandberg, Bonnie Lowe, Randy Aalderink, Patricia Huyge, Virginia Knoop, Andrew Plummer, Ed Walters and Jane VanDis.
While the lease termination is effective Janaury 20th, property owner Baker has agreed to give LAA an additional month at no charge to move its belonging out of the Red Barn.
The relationship between LAA and Baker has been a contentious one over the past few years.
For example, when Baker last year sought a liquor license for the Red Barn through Laketown Township, LAA Board Member John Huyge showed up at township board meeting and spoke about his concerns on how a liquor license may impact LAA’s ability to run its theatre operations
Baker’s company eventually did receive township approval for the liquor license.
Baker also has periodically put the Red Barn building and the property up for sale over the past few years, but no buyers emerged.
The Huyges, speaking for LAA, said they had hoped to raise enough money to purchase the property before their lease expired in 2015.
While no definite plans for the Red Barn have yet been shared publicly by Baker, many local officials and members of the public are speculating he may use the building to eventually hold specia events and/or bring in new businesses.
When the lawyer representing RB Land Holding LLC - Mark Kinnaman - was contacted by Observer Newspapers and asked whether LAA was “forced” out of its lease early and, if so, why, he responded:
“Both sides came together and agreed it was in their mutual best interests to terminate the lease at this time. RB Land Holding LCC wishes LAA the best in its future endeavors as the organization moves forward.”
Asked the same question, Patricia Huyge responded, “I really can’t saying anything at this time. We just want everyone to know that (LAA) is looking forward to finding a new home and will continue to provide great theatre entertainment for the area.”
Huyge did say LAA has no plans to go to court over any issue with RB Land Holdings LLC.