OCEANSIDE — It’s full speed ahead for plans to renovate the historic Sunshine Brooks Theater after its resident theater company was approved for a new lease agreement on the city-owned property.
The Oceanside City Council approved a 20-year lease agreement with the Oceanside Theatre Company (OTC) at its Nov. 17 meeting.
The city chose OTC back in 2011 to operate the theater as part of an initiative to enhance downtown leisure experiences through cultural arts programming and has since approved two five-year lease agreements for the theater to remain there.
With the previous lease agreement due to end on Oct. 31 of this year, OTC board members started working with the city earlier this year on a plan to extend its lease agreement for another 20 years.
A longer lease agreement would mean a more permanent future for the theater company and would allow them to move forward with their plans to renovate the theater.
As part of the new lease agreement, OTC is required to make its proposed capital improvement projects in exchange for abated rent for the next 20 years.
The first phase of the required capital improvements to the theater will be made to its lobby and Studio 219. OTC is required to invest at least $500,000 to these two spaces to add six additional free-standing bathrooms; renovations to Studio 219’s bathroom; new entry doors and glazing at both the lobby and Studio 219 spaces; a new, energy-efficient HVAC system; and moving the entrance space to the seating area; and new concessions and plumbing in the lobby.
The required second phase requires OTC to invest at least $300,000 to renovate the actual theater space of the building. These changes will include replacing the theater and dressing rooms HVAC system, replacing floor and carpeting, upgrading theater sound and lighting equipment, and replacing the seating to accommodate up to 200 people.
OTC board member Leann Garms said the most exciting of the renovations will be the new bathroom additions as well as the changes to the lobby.
“We’ll make this a beautiful, upgraded, functional space for all things cultural arts,” Garms said.
Though not listed as a requirement in the new lease agreement, OTC has also looked at a third phase of improvements to design and construct a multi-purpose, rooftop patio as well as creating alley performance space at the rear of the building and also adding lobby access to its rear parking area. Its capital improvement campaign seeks to fund a minimum of $1 million for its three-phase remodeling and upgrading plans.
All plans to renovate the property must be submitted to the city for approval first.
Garms said OTC has been looking at renovating the theater for the last few years, having completed a feasibility study about two years ago with LUCE et Studio architectural firm.
“We had to get a longer-term lease before we could move forward,” Garms said.
Now, the theater company is working with Ann Worth at Object Projects, the same architectural firm that designed the proposed, big ‘O’ landmark sign to be constructed over the intersection of Tremont Street and Pier View Way.
Worth previously lived in Oceanside and served on the Oceanside Arts Commission up until 2019. Though she now lives in San Diego, she recently told The Coast News her firm intends to focus on projects in Oceanside like the Brooks Theater and the landmark sign.
According to Garms, it’s exciting times for OTC and the Brooks Theater.
“We’re at this pivotal point in our growth,” Garms said. “We need volunteers and board members, and we’ll be adding staff, so if anyone has ever had a vision of being involved in something big like the theater — and honestly we’re so much more than a theater — now is the time.”