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New Castle, WBT Operators in Lease Talks for Shows at ChappPac

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The Town of New Castle is negotiating with an entity that operated the former Westchester Broadway Theatre on a multi-year lease to produce shows at the Chappaqua Performing Arts.

Evening Out, Inc. and town officials are looking at a potential three-year lease at the 425-seat venue referred to as ChappPac on the campus of Chappaqua Crossing, the former Reader’s Digest property.

“Evening Out is looking to start actually booking events out tentatively later this year,” Town Attorney Ed Phillips said at a recent Town Board meeting. “So they would also like to have some comfort, if you will, that these discussions are going to bear fruit and that they’re going to be in a lease with the town relatively soon.”

While terms of the lease were still to be hashed out, Phillips said that in addition to a multi-year agreement of preferably three years, Evening Out would donate lighting and sound equipment to the theater. There are also other issues that still needed to be resolved such as use of the auditorium by the town, how to divide the cost of the utilities, having a $1 per-ticket fee that would go to the town and a guarantee of a certain number of events each year.

Another issue complicating matters is that New Castle is supposed to take ownership of the theater but the town hasn’t taken title because Summit, the property owner, is still completing improvements to the site, Phillips said. Once that is done, the town will take title to the property.

“I would like to be in title and be able to lease with Evening Out as opposed to a sublease,” he said.

Supervisor Lisa Katz said the sound and lighting equipment Evening Out will donate will be new and is worth roughly $150,000. It will remain with the theater even if the lease expires without renewal, she said.

“We’re not in the business of being producers or promoters, the town, so this is something we’ll be able to guarantee so residents have something to see there a good portion of the year,” Katz said.

Evening Out is also in the midst of applying for a liquor license with the state and is expected to sell concessions. There has also been talk of the company working out an arrangement with local restaurants to provide deals to theatergoers.

The Westchester Broadway Theatre permanently closed in October 2020 following seven months of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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