If husband and wife team Carey Eidel and Angela Daddabbo have their way, Auburn could have a new theater come fall.
The couple, who own Daddabbo's Pizza on Genesee Street in downtown Auburn, have reached an agreement to purchase the former Paul's Pocket Billiard building at 102-108 Genesee St. They hope to make the building the permanent home of the Auburn Public Theater, as well as a performance space for other artists.
Their company, EDD LLC, recently placed an offer on the building currently owned by Paul Merluzzi, though because the deal isn't finalized, Eidel wouldn't disclose the amount of the offer. He would say that it was accepted and the couple hopes to close on the property within the next two months.
Then comes the real work.
Both Eidel and Daddabbo spent years in Los Angeles working in the entertainment industry. Upon moving to Auburn, Daddabbo's hometown, the couple has looked for ways to integrate arts into the community.
Over the years, Cayuga County has become increasingly supportive of local arts initiatives. Both the Auburn Players and the Cayuga Community College performances draw respectable crowds, and the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse continues to grow into a leading theater for the region.
But there is no public arts venue, a void Eidel and Daddabbo want to fill.
"We envision the Auburn community having a wonderful venue for world-class theater, art and film," Eidel said.
The fact that the property is in the middle of downtown Auburn was a huge selling point for Eidel and Daddabbo, just like their pizzeria.
And just like their successful eatery, they placed the bid on the property based on "instinct."
"It's in the absolute center of the city. It's a no-brainer," Daddabbo said.
The venue will be a black-box-style theater with moveable chairs and stages that can be adjusted depending on the needs of the individual show.
The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse's producing director, Ed Sayles, has been helping the couple draft ideas for the performance space.
The Auburn Public Theater, the not-for-profit entity that will be running the space, plans on a performance space that accommodates between 75 and 100 patrons, similar to the Kitchen Theatre Company in Ithaca.
Like the Kitchen Theatre, which has proved to be a viable enterprise both economically and artistically, the Auburn Public Theater hopes to offer part of the building as artist space to help nurture local creative talent.
"We would like to reach out to the existing arts community that needs a place to come," Eidel said.
While the couple hasn't pinned down exactly what the non-theater part of the building will be used for, they do have an idea of what they'd like to see there.
Ideally, they'd like to be able to hold art classes for children, rent out space for artists and perhaps have an exhibition space.
The couple and their investment and artistic partners have been working with Steve Lynch and Cynthia Aikman in the city planning office to see about integrating the Exchange Street Mall renovation plans with the theater construction. Nothing is set in stone yet, but the couple has a vision for a cultural renaissance.
"We wanted to see how we could be part of reviving downtown," Daddabbo said. "We want to give back in a way that's totally practical."
Staff writer Lauren Ober can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 245 or firstname.lastname@example.org