Herald American

Bellflower to lease theater to comedy club promoter

BELLFLOWER — The City Council has approved a new lease for the community theater building now used by the Youth Cultural Arts Foundation, a private group conducting theater programs for youths.

The Stand Up Club will offer 60 to 90 minutes of live comedy in the theater building at 9831 Belmont St., after the City Council approved the project and lease on a 5-0 vote March 12.

Jim DellaLonga, director of economic development, said the Youth Cultural Arts Foundation, which rents the facility from the city for $1 a year, has agreed to end its agreement, set to expire in December 2019, so the Stand Up Club can lease the city-owned building for $2,400 per month. The lease is for 30 years, renewable for another 10 years, with the monthly rent expected to increase at least 3 percent a year depending on the consumer price index.

The foundation will continue to have free use of the Bristol Theatre, 16600 Civic Center Drive, DellaLonga said. It offers stage productions and includes a large annual children’s talent show in late summer or early fall.

DellaLonga said a developer plans to expand the facility and has the right to purchase it after five years. If the developer later plans to sell the site, the city will get right of first refusal to repurchase it.

“It’s a prime piece of land,” Councilman Sonny Santa Ines said.

The Stand Up Club is headed by John Giries, based at 12035 Burke St., Suite 11, Santa Fe Springs.

Giries said he has been in the entertainment business in various ways since 1996 and currently publishes an entertainment magazine. It’s his first venture at running a comedy club.

“I felt there was a need for such a club in this area,” Giries said.

DellaLonga said the facility will be remodeled in six months and seat about 120. Cocktails will be available. He said the club is expected to bring in residents from the area who are expected to patronize Bellflower restaurants and other businesses.

Only one resident spoke at the public hearing March 12.  Anita McInnis voiced concerns about patrons drinking, using drugs and disturbing the area.

Giries responded that the facility is like a performing arts center, not a nightclub. He said such clubs generally attract more affluent patrons out for dinner and a show and have no reason to stay once the show is over.

In a report to the council, DellaLonga said the building was purchased by the now defunct Bellflower Redevelopment Agency in 2004. Such agencies were abolished by the state in February 2012. Council members sitting as the Redevelopment Successor Agency and Finance Authority, are in charge of the building, which is valued between $250,000 and $300,000.

“The Economic Development Department staff was approached by the developer about two years ago regarding the property because he saw a great opportunity to fill a regional void in the live comedy industry in Southern California in downtown Bellflower and with this site,” the report said.

“Staff indicated an interest in the project, but informed the developer of the agreements with the Youth Foundation, which expire in December 2019. As a result, the developer has built a positive relationship with YCAF over the past two years and YCAF has agreed to terminate its rental agreement with the city to allow this project to move forward,” DellaLong said.

The project represents private investment of $250,000 to $300,000, is estimated to generate sales tax in the amount of $15,000 to $20,000 annually, and will generate between 10 and 12 jobs.

Based on a rental value study prepared by Douglass and Associates dated Sept. 7, 2017, the fair market monthly rental rate for the property is $2,400, which will generate $28,800 in rental revenue to the city in the first year of the lease.