TheatreSquared request would allow short-term rentals in guest apartments

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Officials with TheatreSquared would like to use the organization’s guest apartments as short-term rentals when they’re not occupied by visiting performing artists or playwrights.

City Council members on Tuesday will consider a lease amendment to allow residential rentals on the property, which is owned by the city. The item is on the consent agenda for the meeting, which means it won’t include any discussion before a vote is taken unless removed from consent by a council member.

The council in 2016 voted unanimously to approve a longterm lease agreement that cleared the way for construction of TheatreSquared’s new performing arts center on a 54-space, city-owned parking lot at the southeast corner of Spring Street and West Avenue.

The 25-year lease can be renewed up to three times, and does not include any rental fees for use of the land. Instead, TheatreSquared is required to provide professional performances in its facility for the duration of the lease.

TheatreSquared guest apartments / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The $34 million facility opened in August 2019. It includes a 50,000-square-foot building with performance and rehearsal space, a design workshop, staff offices, educational areas and a coffee shop. It also includes an 8-unit guest apartment building.

City staff said the idea for a lease amendment first came up during the right-of-way acquisition phase of the cultural arts corridor project.

Peter Nierengarten, the city’s environmental director, said it was discovered that a portion of the property that is being leased to TheatreSquared is actually being used for a driveway leading to an attorney’s office to the south on Meadow Street. The business has requested an access easement to continue using the driveway, which would require a lease amendment, Nierengarten said.

During discussions with TheatreSquared, Nierengarten said theatre officials requested an additional lease amendment regarding assignment and subletting. If approved, the theatre’s guest apartments could be used as short-term rentals through services like Airbnb and VRBO when not being used to provide free housing for visiting artists and others involved in its endeavors.

TheatreSquared guest apartments / Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

The non-profit organization received $14.3 million from the Walton Family Foundation for design and construction of the project, as well as another $1.8 million in multi-year support for programming.

Aside from the rent-free lease, the theatre also received $6.1 million in public funds for the project, which included $3.1 million from the Fayetteville City Council and $3 million from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Disclosure: TheatreSquared is a financial supporter of the Fayetteville Flyer.