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Monday, July 25, 2011

Construction Project Showers Stage Werx in Dust and Debris

Posted By on Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Drywall dust in the small lobby of Stage Werx. - TY MCKENZIE
  • Ty Mckenzie
  • Drywall dust in the small lobby of Stage Werx.

Update: Mckenzie and Shelton told SF Weekly today that the 7-11 are now working with Stage Werx and Shelton Theater to prevent further damage.

Original Post:

Anyone who runs a small theater will tell you it's hard to get by, but Ty Mckenzie of Stage Werx has had an added burden in the past couple of weeks -- dust and debris from a construction project overhead.

Since opening in the basement of 533 Sutter three years ago, Mckenzie has worked with flooding and mold problems in the 49-seat theater, doing her best to make it a clean and comfortable space. Then last week, she walked in and found it covered in a layer of drywall dust, leading to a couple of blown stage lights and problems with the sound system.

Mckenzie reported she'd had trouble getting anyone to respond to her concerns, but after we spoke with the president of the contractor working on the project -- renovation to accommodate a 7-Eleven store -- it seems that people are working toward a resolution.

  • Ty Mckenzie

"The place was completely trashed," Mckenzie told SF Weekly on Friday.

Mckenzie had known about plans for the store, but had received no notification of when renovations would start. In an outraged e-mail message sent last week, she detailed the damage done by the construction.

Drywall dust "has covered our curtains, stage, props, sets, seats, lighting equipment, scrims, carpet ... the list goes on," she wrote. "The dust caused two theater lights to blow. The light board is ... almost unusable."

Mckenzie said workers initially put up plastic to guard against dust and debris, but in the wrong location. They redid it, but she described it as "a horrible, haphazard job." She also reported having to hire a cleaning crew to complete inadequate cleanup work.

Matt Shelton, owner of Shelton Theater next door, has also suffered from the construction above, with his theater flooded by a broken water pipe.

"I talked with the general contractor -- he was not really very helpful." Shelton says. "They're used to running roughshod over people. They don't really care about the kind of damages that they're doing."

According to David Miller, president of the construction company MPS Inc., disruption is inevitable when renovations take place.

"That's what happens when you're remodeling an old building," he says. "Any time you remodel, you open up a can of worms. It's never going to be a perfect situation for the tenant below."

Miller told SF Weekly that in these situations, the contractors always try to work with the tenants to minimize the disruption. He added that 7-Eleven has been working over the weekend to resolve the problem.

  • Ty Mckenzie

Meanwhile, Stage Werx is booked for shows five nights a week. Mckenzie is frustrated on behalf of the companies who booked long in advance, but there is little she can do to make the dust showers end.

Looking forward, Stage Werx is scheduled to move into a new home at 446 Valencia this fall. In the meantime, though, the shows must go on.

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Caroline Chen


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