Handicap Bathroom Project Update

QP took on the largest debt of its existence with this project!  It is 2016 now, eight years since the completion of the project.  We are happy to report the project was well worth the expense, and that the loan (.5M+) is paid down to bit less than half now ~ thanks to donations from generous patrons and friends, as well as our audiences who continue to enjoy QP productions because ~  ticket sales pay for the majority of the  loan every year.

Each QP production has to bring in enough income to cover a couple of months of loan payments.  And QP does a fundraiser every year to supplement some of the payments.  This model is working very well and QP will continue to slowly pay off the rest of the debt ~ over time. Over time means we continue to pay interest on the remaining balance of the loan.

We really appreciate the bank loaned us the money. And we understand the concept that the bank makes its profits with the interest from the loan, but QP would like to keep some of that interest by paying down the loan as much as we can!

So how can you help? Donate to help pay down the loan during our upcoming 80th Season at QP.  Every dollar will help!   The sooner we pay down the loan we will have the means to upgrade our lighting to more power efficient instruments for example, which is a project we have had to put on hold.

Quannapowitt Players, Inc.
55 Hopkins Street
Reading MA 01867
Note: Donation for Handicap Bathroom Project

QP is a Non-Profit 501 3C Organization. QP will provide confirmation of your tax deductible contribution when it is received.

If your employer has a matching donations program, your receipt and QP’s confirmation will double your contribution.

All members of the Quannapowitt Players are volunteers who have devoted countless hours to staging over 250 productions over the last 70 years. There are approximately 150 volunteers, 600 season subscribers, and an average of 1,100 patrons attend each of our shows in this cozy 160-seat black box theater. QP prides themselves on affordable and quality community theater productions – now 5 shows each season!

The QP Playhouse is a unique building with a long history in the town of Reading, first as a schoolhouse and now a community theater. In 1854 the school committee in Reading reported “There has been a beautiful school-house erected in this district this past season, sufficient to seat 80 scholars. The house is very neat in its appearance, with convenient outhouses. We understand that the cost was about twenty-six or twenty-seven hundred dollars.” The building is listed on both the state and national historic registers.

The Quannapowitt Players, formed in 1938, purchased what was once the Walnut Street School in 1954. It was used as a workship and rehearsalspace for productions performed at local schools and churches. In 1970 thebuilding was converted into a “black box” theater thanks to thehard work of many QP volunteers, and has been producing affordable qualitycommunity theater there ever since.

There have been many discussions on improving the theater by adding handicapped accessible facilities over the years. In 2006 the QP Board of Directors started the project in earnest. An architect was hired to design the addition, the process of obtaining necessary variances and permits began, and fundraising activities started in earnest! The construction began in July of 2008 and is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008.

The addition is more than just handicap facilities. It also creates a lobby that replaces the original small foyer. It will wrap around the side of the building, moving the front door to face the parking lot for easier access. It wraps around the back of the original building, creating space for the new restroom facilities, all located on the same level as the stage. It is a significant improvement from the original outhouses and current basement facilities! There will also be a basement under the new facilities which will add much needed storage space for QP.

The image at the top of this page is an artists rendering of the theater once the project is complete. Below are photographs of the theater prior to the start of construction, and underneath are floor plans of the addition. The areas shaded in red on the floor plans indicate the original theater space, with the green showing the new additions.

QP Playhouse
QP Playhouse

Frequently asked questions about the QP Addition:

QP members and patrons have asked a number of great questions about the project; ones you may have wanted to ask yourself, so we would like to share the answers and encourage any other questions you may have! Please contact qpplayers@copper.net if you have any questions or comments.

Why build this addition?

The main goal of this project is to add handicapped accessible bathroom facilities and a real lobby. The stairs to the basement where the toilet facilities and refreshments have been located is not an easy descent! Also, the small foyer was inadequate in inclement weather. An additional benefit to the project is the creation of much needed storage space in the basement under the new handicap facilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires all public spaces within a building provide access to people with disabilities. Any construction performed by QP requires the theater to come into compliance with this Act. The basement of the theater will no longer be open to the public, so refreshments that used to be served in the basement will now be served in the lobby.

When did QP start this project?

In 2006 the QP Board of Directors hired an architect and embarked on obtaining the necessary permits and variances from both the town of Reading and the state of Massachusets. The last required approval for the project was given in August, 2007. Demolotion of the old lobby and construction of the new foundation began on June 19, 2008. It is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2008.

How much will the project cost?

Including the cost of designing plans, obtaining permits, and based on the lowest quotes from contractors, QP expects the full cost of the project to be $400,000. Permits & construction plans alone cost in excess of $70,000 before construction even started. A construction loan of $325,000 was obtained for the cost of construction.

Why has it cost so much?

How to accomplish ADA compliance was a difficult decision based on a number of requirements – from the ADA, the Reading Historical Society, the Fire Department and Building Codes.

Cost was a critical component. The overall cost for this project is in fact very good. The initial estimates of this project included materials and labor for the addition itself and these costs are still relatively the same. There are other costs due to additional requirements for the project that were optimistically estimated lower originally, as well as permit, engineering and architect fees.

There have also been compromises such as eliminating the gas powered HVAC in the addition due to cost so there will be only electric heat. QP will also lose 1 or 2 seats in the theater in order to comply with historical requirements for location of an additional door into stage area.

Here are a few examples of the project requirements to give you a sense of the costs:

  • A retaining wall behind the theater was in disrepair and it was determined that it needed to be replaced to provide greater strength for the new foundation.
  • Additional drainage was required by installing a cistern under the parking lot and attaching the buildings gutters to it.
  • The buildings electrical supply had to be upgraded from a 2-phase connection, common to most residential households, to a 3-phase system used in commercial environments. This was necessary to support the additional power used in the new space, and necessitated replacing the wiring coming from the street into the building as well as replacing multiple circuit breaker panels in the building.
  • Storage spaces in the basement under the new addition are required to have a sprinkler system because of the size of the spaces. The alternative choice, to simply fill in the basement foundation, would have cost the same, so it was an easy decision to opt for the additional storage space.
  • The theaters existing fire alarm system is not wired to the town fire department. The fire department has required that this be done as part of the project, so a complete redesign and rewiring of the fire alarm system was performed.

State building regulations have changed significantly since QP made the old schoolhouse a theater in 1970, which was the last time any major construction was performed. Any work that is done to the building today requires that the building be upgraded to meet current code requirements. Even a small project just to increase the size of the original lobby would have required the installation of many of these additional items.

Why didn’t QP scale back the project?

If QP built a single handicapped facility on the main level of the theater, the ADA rules would require the installation of an elevator or other means of access to the basement for handicapped patrons, because the basement would still be a public space for the other restrooms and the serving of refreshments. The cost and space constraints of an elevator are prohibitive, and the existing stairwell is too narrow to fit any sort of handicapped lift.

The new addition is designed so that the basement is no longer a public space. All public bathrooms will now reside on the main floor, and a concession stand in the new lobby will be used for refreshments. A variance was requested and granted from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board that relieves QP from having to provide handicapped access to the basement because it will no longer be considered a public space.

How did QP raise funds for this project?

QP is raising funds with help from all our friends and patrons! Any and all donations (all fully tax deductable) are welcome. Here are some ways QP did initial fundraising:

  • A pledge drive among members and patrons raised $60,000
  • A raffle of donated items during the production of Ride Down Mount Morgan.
  • ‘King for a night’ auction and ‘Underpants Wall of Good Wishes’ during the production of Steve Martins The Underpants.
  • Original productions created by our own members such as One Night Only.
  • Improv workshops and performances – scheduled again for October, 2008!
  • Grant requests and matching contributions from a number of organizations
  • Yard sales
  • The addition of another production to the season for a total of five!

More fundraising ideas are in the works, but suggestions are always welcome! If you know of a specific grant available for capital improvements please let us know. Most grants exclude capital improvement projects.

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Quannapowitt Players Celebrates it’s 81st Season!

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