Chateau Theatre options ready for city council's review

·4 min read

Oct. 23—Rochester's request for a new operator of the historic Chateau Theatre yielded four proposals — one from within city government.

Rochester Civic Music, Parks and Recreation and Public Library departments combined efforts to propose a plan to operate the city-owned venue, anticipating a mix of community activities, along with private rentals.

The proposal estimates 180 days of events a year, with 39 percent being community based and another 27 percent programmed by the city departments.

ALSO READ: Rochester and operator of Chateau Theatre end contract

Threshold Arts, the nonprofit organization that played a role in renovating the former Armory building, is also pitching a plan to operate the building with the hope of offering a multi-use community space with a focus on arts and culture.

The proposed model would feature daily activity with retail and gallery space, along with a movie lounge operated in collaboration with Gray Duck Theater. Other entertainment events would be scheduled with community partners

A third proposal came from Steve Barlow and Dan Van Hook, owner of Spectrum Pro Audio. They envision using the space for a variety of events, as well as displaying local arts on a daily basis.

The proposal would include a daily pass for access, with a variety of events scheduled, including rotating weekly art exhibits, performances and seminars, as well as food offerings and space for relaxation.

The Rochester City Council will hear presentations on the three proposals at 3:30 p.m. Monday.

A fourth proposal responded to the call for a new operator with a bid to purchase the Chateau, which the city bought in 2016 for $6 million.

City Administrator Alison Zelms said the proposal was left out of the mix for Monday's presentation because it didn't meet the expectations of the city's request to replace Exhibits Development Group as operator of the building.

"Typically, we make available the final proposals, and there was a request that if they weren't selected to move forward they remain anonymous," Zelms told the council Monday in response to a question whether all four options would be seen.

The three plans being reviewed Monday come with varying expectations for initial city investment.

The lowest expectation comes from Barlow and Van Hook, who are asking for a $50,000 loan to start operations, with plans to pay the funds back within three years.

"The Chateau Theater doesn't need capital improvements to be vibrant," the duo wrote in their proposal to the city.

The pitch from the three city departments seeks $650,000 in city investment, with funds used for audio, lighting, projection and staging equipment, as well as seating.

The Threshold Arts proposal identifies a requested $106,190 in assets for items including tables and chairs, as well as equipment for creating a stage equipped for sound and lighting needs. The requests also include unspecified expenses for capital improvements, such as construction of a cafe space, improved skyway visibility and restroom improvements

The plans also anticipate the potential for added city revenue.

The city team's proposal suggests operations would be self-sufficient, with any added revenue being used to create a Chateau Enterprise Fund for the city-owned building.

Threshold Arts' plan calls for the city to share in 50 percent of rental revenue after expenses are covered.

Barlow and Van Hook said profit sharing could be discussed if they are selected to operate the venue.

CET Chateau by inforumdocs on Scribd

Threshold Chateau by inforumdocs on Scribd

Barlow Van Horn Chateau by inforumdocs on Scribd

On Monday, the council will be asked to provide city administration with direction for the next steps, which could include having a favored proposal or asking staff to return with a recommendation at a future meeting.

The council could also ask for the search to continue.

The presentations and discussion will begin at 3:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE. The meeting will also be available live at, as well as on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.


Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Oct. 25 include:


—City Council study session, 3:30 p.m. Monday. The meeting will livestream at and be available on Spectrum cable channel 180 or 188 and Metronet channel 80.

—Public Utility Board, 4 p.m. Tuesday. Access information is available at

—Heritage Preservation Commission, 5 p.m. Tuesday. Access information for the online meeting is available at

—Music Board, 7 p.m. Tuesday. Access information for the online meeting is available at

—Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m. Wednesday. Access information for the online meeting is available at

—Police Civil Service Commission, 3 p.m. Thursday. Access information is available at

Olmsted County

—Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments, noon Wednesday in conference room 186 at 2122 Campus Drive SE.

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