Utica, NY 13501
Total Project Cost
The Stanley is located in downtown Utica, NY. From 1928 thru 1960, Utica’s population was over 110,000 as manufacturing and mercantile flourished along the historic Erie Canal Transportation Corridor. As these businesses have disappeared, the population has shrunk to 60,000. However, it is one of the fastest growing refugee sites in the USA, including over 12,000 refugees from war-torn nations in Africa and South East Asia.
The Stanley Theatre opened and began operations September 10, 1928. The Central New York Community Arts Council, Inc. a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation has owned and operated the Stanley Theatre since purchasing the Stanley in 1974. Acquisition of the Stanley was part of a successful community initiative to save the Stanley from the 1970’s urban renewal wrecking ball. From 1974 to 1999, SCA invested over $5.5 million to maintain and restore the historic landmark that secured the Stanley’s role as the regional performing arts and educational resource center.
The primary goal of the current expansion, renovation and modernization project is to make the Stanley a viable competitor in the national touring market and thereby fuel the economic engine that venues like the Stanley have become in older distressed downtowns like Utica. In order to bring the Stanley into the 21st century and fully realize its role as an economic engine, the Stanley desperately needed to expand its stage, upgrade its technology, create accessibility for the entire population and enhance life safety systems. This was the only solution that would make the Stanley the cornerstone of regional revitalization and business development while developing its capacity as a dynamic downtown economic engine.
UDF provided two loans totaling $11.2 million and an equity investment of $5 million for the renovation of the Stanley Theater. The loans have numerous advantageous features, including a below-market interest rate, longer than standard period of interest only payments, below market origination fees, and others.
A gap in equity sources for the project has resulted from the recent economic downturn, resulting in a large shortfall. Many anticipated Federal and New York State funding initiatives did not materialize. Anticipated grants were either cut or stalled. Changes in funding provisions in the state budget resulted in the Stanley not receiving some anticipated funding. In addition, reimbursements due the project from state grants in support of the Stanley have been delayed by the economy. The loss of these equity sources of funding left the Stanley with an unsustainable debt load, and without the NMTC funding provided by UDF, many services and employees would need to be cut, and the Stanley Theater could be forced to close its doors.
The Stanley Theater is located in a census tract with a 45.7% poverty rate and has a median family income that is only 36.1% of the area median family income. It is located in a TIF district, and an Enterprise Zone.
The Stanley Theatre has the potential to be a major economic engine for downtown Utica, creating or maintaining 150 permanent jobs and generating $29 million of economic activity in the region. The project created over 200 construction jobs, with over 50% of the workers coming from the surrounding neighborhood.
However, this was all at risk due to the excessive debt burden. But for additional infusion of equity through the New Market Tax Credits program, the Stanley would not have been able to maintain or expand its low prices, free programs, and facilities usage to the schools and to the people of the region.