Alberta Rose Theatre starts crowdfunding to save building

$300,000 sought by Sept. 1 to save cultural icon with a long history in Northeast Portland

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JAIME VALDEZ - The owner of the building that houses the Alberta Rose Theatre is selling the building, and the theatre owner is raising money to buy it. The future of the Alberta Rose Theatre is uncertain, as building owner Robbin Mayfield has decided to sell the building more than 30 years after buying it as an investment and fixing it up himself.

Mayfield has given Joseph Cawley, who owns the theater — a tenant in the building — the option to buy it. A crowdfunding campaign is under way, with a goal of raising $300,000 by Sept. 1.

The community arts cornerstone that is Alberta Rose Theatre presents everything from Chamber Music Northwest to an annual Dolly Parton Hoot Night, and that is not likely to change if Cawley is able to secure the funds.

The effort to raise money for the Alberta Rose Theatre has garnered significant community support.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JAIME VALDEZ - Retailers in the building expect to remain if it is purchased by the theatre owner. More than 300 people have collectively donated $29,000 toward the hefty goal in just over a month, according to the crowdfunding campaign. Theatre officials have said that the money needs to be raised by Sept. 1, and that they have partnered with Premier Community Bank to make the purchase.

According to an update posted to the GoFundMe website on July 1, earnest money has been deposited, a property appraisal has been scheduled, and a bank loan committee will be meeting soon.

“The money we raise here will really make the difference,” Cawley wrote in the update.

Mayfield says that he has always assured Cawley, a good tenant who always pays the rent on time and has consistently been interested in buying the building, that he would have first chance at it when the time came. The time has now come, as Mayfield is retiring. Cawley has not responded to Tribune requests for comment, but Mayfield says a deal is on the table.

The building also houses Bristlecone Boutique, The Fix Hut, Barber Q and Just Balloons. It is not likely that these businesses would be affected by the sale of the building to Cawley, according to one of the business owners, who asked to remain anonymous. The building also features four apartments, which are occupied.

Mayfield says he is worried about the way the neighborhood is heading, after seeing firsthand the snowballing effects of gentrification over the years. When he first bought the building, Mayfield says he moved into one of the apartments and, little by little, fixed the place up.

Now, he says, those moving into the neighborhood aren’t concerned enough about the rich history of the community.

“They are not empathetic at all,” Mayfield says.

Although he can’t recall if he’s ever been to a show at the Alberta Rose, Mayfield says the theatre is good for the community, and that Cawley is a good fit for the neighborhood.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JAIME VALDEZ - The Alberta Rose Theater is located at 3000 NE Alberta St.“I know the type of shows he brings in; they’re all top-flight. And he’s got good clientele,” Mayfield says.

Local radio host Phil Busse has supported the campaign and is passionate about preserving the theatre for the sake of Portland culture.

“For the city to hold on to what makes it interesting is going to be important for how Portland stays Portland for the next decade or two,” Busse says. “(It’s important) to preserve those places where we can go to see funky circus shows and listen to Oregon Humanity lectures, and not just live in stylized lofts and buy designer ice cream.”

In addition to a personal donation, Busse also encouraged his friends to contribute.

Less than half a mile down the road from the building, Gina Cadenasso, who owns Bolt Fabric Boutique, says that she is in full support of preserving the Alberta Rose Theatre.

“I think it’s an incredible community asset,” Cadenasso says.

 

This story was first published here.

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