The pace of revitalization on the city's west side became a factor in the theater company's decision to step back from the idea of moving into Read's.
"The board was concerned that there aren't more properties under bid [for renovation] on that block," Roark said. "We didn't want to end up being by ourselves for two years. We had to consider if our public would follow us there and feel safe."
The lease on Spotlighters' 65-seat theater-in-the-round on St. Paul Street, home base since 1962, expires in December 2019.
"We may be able to stay here a little longer until we can move to a bigger and better space," Roark said.
Meanwhile, Roark, the only full-time salaried staff member at Spotlighters, is taking up a recommendation of the consulting company to seek grants to fund the hiring of a full-time development/marketing staffer.
"I hope we can have someone in place by May or June to redevelop our individual gift-giving program and network with foundations and corporations that can be lead donors in a capital campaign," he said. "We need to ramp up our public image."
Spotlighters, which has an annual budget of $189,000, puts on at least eight productions a season, and also offers educational outreach programs held at the theater and at local schools throughout the year.
Rather than purchase a building that needs extensive renovation to be transformed into the theater-in-the-round space that Spotlighters favors, the company is looking into venues that could be more quickly adapted and cost less to purchase. One property under consideration is near the Beltway on the southwest side.
"But we really want to stay in Mount Vernon, if possible," Roark said.