One of Atlantic City’s most extraordinary edifices —a magnificent landmark building dating back to 1928 —has now come up for sale, and could represent a golden opportunity for an enterprising impresario. Dante Hall Theater of the Arts, the three-story, totally remodeled auditorium that has been at the heart of the revitalization of the resort’s Ducktown neighborhood (otherwise known as ”Little Italy”) for two decades, is currently being offered for a bargain price of $1.5 million, more than $300,000 below its appraised value.
Located at 14 N. Mississippi Ave., between Atlantic and Arctic avenues, this unique property, long owned by the Parish of St. Monica’s, has become known for the productions staged there by Stockton University, which leased it from 2011 through the end of last year—although the school’s decision not to continue that arrangement came prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anyone looking ahead to a time, hopefully within the next year, when normal life is allowed to resume, however, must realize that there will be a greater demand than ever for live performances once that happens. And Dante Hall, with its exquisitely renovated retro interior, complete with torch-light sconces on mounted wall panels, Victorian style light-shaded wagon wheel chandeliers and a proscenium curtained proscenium stage framed by classic sculptures, as well as state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems (including a sound box on the mezzanine), couldn’t be a better setting to accomplish that, having been used by Stockton as a community performing arts center for several years.
“I have always said publicly that Dante Hall is a beautiful gem for Atlantic City—a place where the entire community came together for cultural and community events, entertainment and fellowship, and can and will do so again,” says Stephanie Clineman, who was hired to manage and operate the facility and serve as its artistic director by the Dante Hall theater nonprofit Board of Directors in 2007, and later resumed that role when Stockton took it over.
With the help of a $3 million contribution from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), this one-time Catholic School gymnasium, which was also used to stage operas during its early years, has been completely refurbished, and in addition to theatrical productions and high-end concerts, has also been hired out for wedding receptions, community events and seminars and even sweet sixteen parties, as well as annual area film festivals. “Between the seats in the mezzanine, which are fixed, and the movable seating on the main floor, it could accommodate an audience of more than 200 people,” Clineman notes.
But a fully equipped and exquisitely decorated theatrical setting isn’t the only thing a buyer of this property will acquire. The building is also distinguished by several majestic stained-glass windows, and comes with amenities that include elevators, rest rooms, and a coat-check/ticket area and a third floor containing a mirrored rehearsal room; dressing rooms with vanities that can be split in half; two bathrooms with showers for performers; a back office with a kitchenette and private bathroom for the director, and a conference room with a chalk board and windows, as well as additional office and storage space and an outdoor parking area large enough for several vehicles.
It should also be noted that Dante Hall has the additional distinction of being the only theatrical venue in Atlantic City not connected to a casino.
If Dante Hall sounds like the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to turn your stagecraft visions into reality and become a major player in the area’s artistic and cultural renaissance, the person to contact for a private showing of this fabulous facility is listing agent Jo Ann Daly of RE/MAX Platinum Properties in Ventnor at (609) 513-8969. Or you can email her at email@example.com.
But don’t take too long in deciding to do so, lest you miss out on this once-in-lifetime chance to assume a leading role in the sphere of performance art.