Experimental theater aims to purchase iconic century building

Experimental theater company convergence-continuum (con-con) has raised 10 percent of the funds needed to buy the Liminis building, 2438 Scranton Rd., its home since 2002.

Con-con's board launched a $200,000 capital campaign in January to purchase the property in the Scranton South Historic District in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood from Clyde Simon, the company's artistic director and a founding member. The building can be had for $130,000, the exact amount Simon needs to pay off mortgage and closing costs. The remaining $70,000 would be placed in reserve for future repair and operation costs.

Clyde SimonSimon, 69, will not be making a profit from the sale, he notes. The theater official, along with co-founder Brian Breth, paid $160,000 for the space in 2000, spending another $100,000 for a new lighting system and other improvements. Board voice president Geoffrey Hoffman, a realtor with Howard Hanna, recently estimated the property's market value at $230,000 to $250,000.

"I'm taking a loss from my initial purchase price, plus all I've invested in upgrading the property in its conversion into a theater," says Simon.

Selling below market value is no problem for Simon, who single-handedly manages the 6,000-square-foot building while living in the theater’s backstage apartment. Not only have the duties of ownership become financially untenable, Simon says, using an extension ladder to clean the gutters isn't how he wants to spend his golden years.

"I want the company to stay right where it is," says Simon, who bought out his partner Breth's share of the 150-year-old structure in 2005. "I've been doing less of the artistic stuff to keep it going."

Simon is confidant con-con can raise the needed money before the end of 2016, when he would need to put the theater on the market. Con-con is already receiving cash donations, and will be approaching foundations for funding help in spring. In addition, $200,000 is a fairly modest amount when compared to a capital campaign arts' scene that can run into the tens of millions.

"Our board is working their connections," says Simon. "Their enthusiasm makes me optimistic."

Simon looks forward to being relived of his managerial responsibilities so he can focus his energies on directing, acting and set designing.

"I'm only directing one show this year; before that I was much more active," he says. "I want to be a bigger part of the exciting stuff rather than having to pay the mortgage and fix the roof." 

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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