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Second Generation Theatre pulls out of Shea's Seneca project

Second Generation Theatre, an ambitious local company launched by three young performers in 2013, is scrapping plans to establish a permanent space in the soon-to-be-restored Shea's Seneca building in South Buffalo.

"After a great deal of due diligence, we have determined that the Shea’s Seneca space is not a financially viable site for Second Generation Theatre," company co-founder Kristin Bentley said in a statement. "While we were excited about being part of this project, the last thing we want to do is to make a move that is not sustainable."

Schneider Development, whose plans originally called for including a 130-seat theater alongside a banquet facility and 21 apartments, will shelve the theater project and instead create a more traditional mix of storefront retail space and residential units.

Bentley said the company's decision came down to the cost of rent.

"We would not have been able to sustain what they needed from us in regards to the lease," she said in an email.

Jake Schneider, president and founder of the development company, said parting ways with the theater company was a mutual decision.

Though Second Generation signed a letter of intent more than year ago, a recent evaluation of its finances and business plan brought its founders to the realization that the lease would be unaffordable. An attempt to negotiate a lower rent with Schneider Development was not successful.

Even so, each party wished the other luck.

"I'm disappointed because I thought they'd be a great addition to the community," Schneider said in a phone interview from New York City. "We're going to do a more conventional tenant mix with apartments and conventional retail space in the storefront."

That model, Schneider said, "is not as sexy for the community, but the big thing is we want to get this building restored and get it so it's a full and vital and contribution to commercial corridor."

Second Generation, which is on hiatus for the current season, has resumed its search for a permanent home and plans to resume its programming during the 2018-19 season.


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