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Lights back on

December 1, 2016 GMT

NEW ULM - After seven months without power, the lights are back on at State Street Theater.

The theater has been without power since April, after developers of the adjacent lot failed to make on-time utility payments.

Last year, the former District 88 Middle School building complex was rezoned and divided into two lots. One was sold to developer CentraSota, to develop into apartment units. The other belongs to the State Street Theater Company (SSTC) and consists of the theater and auditorium.

The condition for splitting the building into two lots required the apartment developer to play utilities for both buildings over the next two years.

In April, SSTC was informed the utilities were to be shut off for failure to pay the February bill. The developer then informed the theater they did not have enough money to cover the monthly utility costs.

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, CentraSota became current with its utility bill, and power was restored Wednesday morning.

The restoration of power came just in time for the return of winter weather. A light drizzle that threatened to turn to snow was falling all Wednesday morning. With no steam power generating heat over the last month, the building was cold, but the theater is expected to heat up again.

The Chair of the SSTC Board Judy Sellner, Stage Manager Vickie Kuehn and CentraSota Property Manager Paul Warshauer toured the complex after the power was restored, along with maintenance crew. The early walk through was to determine if any unnecessary lights had turned on. Even though power has been restored, both sides of the State Street complex are trying to minimize power usage.

Neither Sellner nor Warshauer commented on whether CentraSota will able to remain current with utilities in the future, but all are happy to have the lights back.

“We’re excited to get back in and get organized,” Sellner said. “We’ve already started contacting tenants and letting them know the power’s back.”

Without lights, SSTC has been unable to hold performances and other events since late April. SSTC productions were scheduled at other available locations, such as the community center and Marktplatz Mall.

The SSTC’s next scheduled production, in March 2017, is “The Odd Couple.” With power restored, the performance will happen on the main stage.

State Street is also moving forward on its new capital campaign to raise funds for preserving and restoring the building. The first step of the campaign is to raise $15,000 to winterize the theater. By spring, the company wants to raise $200,000 to cover the cost of separating utilities from the apartment side and refurbish the auditorium.