Hats OFF!to all the parties initiating a second look at Manchester's venerable opera house .one of few remaining in the state, and two that originally existed in the town. As a theater professional who has had some involvement with theater rehabilitation, renovations and adaptive reuse, and a resident who has frequently stopped and looked longingly at the old building, imaging what it had been and might become, this agreement could develop into a wonderful opportunity for our community.
As first steps, a thorough feasibility study might be in order. It would include a group of interested parties representing all sectors necessary to conduct a thorough investigation of the buildings potential program (s) and the cost of developing, managing and operating such an entity, including ownership. Such a feasibility study would consist of a needs assessment, use analysis, and programming model, which could "give us the answer" and simultaneously offer the community a way to engage in an important dialogue about the future of the region and the enhancement of its assets.
The Feasibility, Study could include the following elements:
1) Determine its potential uses, users and value to the community, including market research;
2) Develop the optimum program resulting from need and use analyses and market research;
3) Analyze the cost of operating the program and the income (earned and contributed) to support it;
4) Develop "Comps" ( i.e.
5) Evaluate the overall ( architectural and engineering) soundness of the building;
6) Determine the the architectural and engineering rehabilitation required to accommodate the program;
7) Determine initial reconstruction costs ( again examine "comps)
8) Determine facility maintenance costs;
9) Determine programmatic costs;
10) Develop the the best management structure to operate the facility and its programs;
11) Review Marketing;
12) Determine Management costs;
13) Research income both earned and contributed potential - at least 5 years out;
14) Establish cost benefit to community(ies) and users;
15) On the basis of program, management construction, operating, management and marketing costs along with benefit to the community, determine "best and most qualified "owner" of the facility.
Though it may seem tedious, I hope we will be able to engage in this course of action, which has the potential to give voice to many sectors of the community, and point the way to building a strong future for our community. And though, in the end, the answer may not be in this particular building. The process itself could prove valuable to all of us.
Margaret Wood Hemnes