Ansonia signs $1 lease for opera house, plans ‘amazing’ new venue

ANSONIA — The inside is dusty, grimy and in disrepair, but if the city has its way, the Ansonia Opera House will once again be a destination spot.

“In terms of where we want to go, it’s basically bring that opera house back as a social entertainment venue in a new way for the city,” corporation counsel John Marini said. “We think it will be an amazing enhancement, and amazing bonus for Main Street and Ansonia.”

The city signed a lease with the co-owner, Walter Kendzierski on March 21 in one of the offices on the property. The signed lease won’t do much yet, though, because the city now must conduct inspections to see how much work the structure needs. Once that is complete, finding the funds to carry out the work is the next challenge.

But when complete, the opera house will attract visitors and be profitable for the city as it continues with its Main Street economic revitalization program, Marini said. He added the time was perfect to return the opera house to its former glory.

“I thought, hey, it’s now or never with Main Street taking off,” he said. “You see downtown, they’re adding apartments. If we don’t act, it’s either going to be apartments and lose the opera house or it’s going to be take action and see what we can do.”

The lease runs until the year 2052 at a rate of $1 per month to Kendzierski and his family who jointly own the property. The lease also includes language that the city will apply for grants to help rehabilitate the property and restore it and makes the city financially responsible for utilities and upkeep.

Taxes on the property will remain fixed at its 2022 assessment, and the owners will receive an annual tax credit of $3,000.

Mayor David Cassetti said the opera house has been an outlier on Main Street for the past two decades as businesses have opened around it and the downtown area is beginning to rebound.