By Kristina Webb
Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Theatre Department has found a new home.
The university announced Tuesday that it has purchased the Ballet Florida building, located at 500 Fern St. in downtown West Palm Beach, for $1.85 million.
“This acquisition will not only be an asset to the future of Palm Beach Atlantic University but will be a cultural asset to the City of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County,” said PBA President Lu Hardin.
Hardin told the Palm Beach Post that he would like to catch the interest of tourists from New York and Chicago.
The 11,950 square-foot building will allow the theater program to move from its temporary home in Theatre Village.
According to the Palm Beach Post, Ballet Florida ceased operation of its academy in June following extreme financial hardships, including a failed bid to sell its 500 Fern St.
property to the City of West Palm Beach.
Renovation is expected to cost approximately $400,000 and include space for offices, performances and classrooms.
The school has assembled a task force to evaluate which renovations must be made to both the interior and exterior of the building.
Students in the theater program are excited about the prospect of having a place to call home.
“The students and professors have been vigorously praying for a building for some time now,” said musical theater major Hannah Kniskern. “The fact that we now have a building to call ours is very exciting.”
Kniskern expressed concern about the distance from the main campus to the new building.
“The new theater being located off campus has its disadvantages,” Kniskern said. “I don’t know exactly how it will work out but I am not crazy about the idea that the theater students are going to be disconnected from the rest of the student body.”
However, Kniskern added, she believes the department is happy with a permanent home, no matter the circumstances.
“President Hardin has really shown the department that he is serious about making changes that will be beneficial to the students,” Kniskern said. “I would love the new theater to just be a great place for us to learn and grow in our art form.”