Monday, October 26, 2009

Goodspeed Will Break Ground on Major Actors' Housing Expansion

Goodspeed Musicals will build a $5.5 million project with 17 new homes to be used for actor housing on the Goodspeed Campus in East Haddam.

The New Actor Housing initiative represents the largest capital project in Goodspeed history. Construction is set to begin this Fall with a target completion date of Fall 2010.

“With this project, Goodspeed is building not only homes, but an artistic village that will come alive with actors and artisans,” said Michael Price, Goodspeed’s executive director. “No other theatre in the country can offer such a campus and all of us at Goodspeed are grateful to so many of our members and supporters who have made this a reality. During this uncertain economic climate, it is also encouraging to spur employment for dozens of construction workers, carpenters, electricians, painters and more."

Goodspeed owns nine old houses in the East Haddam Village where its actors, directors, designers and technical staff stay during rehearsals and performances. These houses become their home away from home since most live permanently in New York City. Unfortunately these old houses were not designed for this style of living. Seasoned professionals live in cramped, boarding house-style quarters where they are frequently asked to share a living space with as many as thirteen other people or a bathroom with three or four strangers.

Several years ago, Goodspeed determined that it was essential to build attractive housing that provides comfort, privacy, and proximity to the Goodspeed Opera House. By expanding housing availability, Goodspeed will also have the ability to produce more shows and run them for a longer period of time.

Patrick Pinnell, a local architect and noted urban planner from Haddam, CT, worked with the Goodspeed team to create the concept for integrating the new homes into the existing Goodspeed campus and designing them to fit within the historic East Haddam Village. Throughout the planning process, the team’s charge was to meet Goodspeed’s challenging needs while combining modern sensibility with a keen appreciation for the historic aspect of Goodspeed’s home in East Haddam.

The plan, which includes a nmber of "green" elements, includes building 17 new homes with a total of 65 new bedrooms, all within walking distance to the Goodspeed Opera House. The homes will contain three or six bedrooms with shared kitchens and living rooms. Each bedroom will have a private bathroom. One house will have two one-bedroom “star apartments” for the leading actors.

Several of the existing houses will be retained for continued use by Goodspeed while others will be sold for retail/residential use and one will be torn down.

More than half of the required funds for th porject already have been raised through private and public sources, including a $2.5 million grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development.

"The Goodspeed New Actor Housing project is a smart investment and very good news for our state," Governor Rell said. "It creates new jobs for Connecticut workers right now, causes economic development in a rural community and promotes Connecticut culture and tourism for many years to come. This is a project where everybody wins, especially our residents."

The official ground breaking will occur in November and construction will follow immediately. Those interested in bidding on construction contracts may contact Signature Construction Services International, LLC at www.signaturecsllc.com or 860-963-8905. All construction bids must be received by 5 pm, Nov. 2, 2009.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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