Saturday, June 24, 2017

THE WOODLAND REVENUE ON THE RISE, BUT PAYOFF WILL BE A WHILE

Four years after the Township raised some eyebrows with its $1 million purchase of the former Women's Club (now The Woodland), annual revenue for the building is on a steady increase.

But with more than $500,000 in additional funds invested in improvements and upgrades to the building, and total revenues since its opening at just above $200,000, it will be a while before the purchase is completely paid off.

Still, township officials consider the project a success already with annual income rising each year since the 2013 purchase and its popularity greater than ever.

"Its popularity has been very organic as word has spread," said Andrew Fishman, Maplewood cultural affairs director. "More and more Maplewood residents come there for events and that leads to more people booking it."

The financial data backs up Fishman's assertion.

Township records indicate annual revenue that began at $20,963 in 2014, grew to $62,284.37 in 2015 and $86,883.75 last year.

And in the first three months of 2017, the facility has brought in $31,491.50. At that rate, it is on pace to bring in more than $100,000 by the end of the year. 

"I believe that the revenue has exceeded anyone's expectations," said Fishman, who added that the success has occurred with no real advertising. "All of the business it has attracted is by word of mouth."

The former Women's Club was purchased by the township in 2013, but was not marketed for events until mid-2014 when it was re-named "The Woodland." Along with its use for events, it has also added dozens of parking spaces to Maplewood Village parking after the township opened the lot to public parking. 

But in addition to the $1 million purchase price, the Township has also invested $543,655.12 in improvements that included re-paving the lot, environmental clean-up, upgrading interior doors and kitchen areas, and the main room stage, electrical equipment and fixtures.

The Township Committee earlier this year approved some rate increases for out-of-town residents, but local users pay the same fees that have been in place since it opened.

Fishman is hoping to bring more annual and regular events to the space, noting the YMCA summer camp will be there this year and the SOMA Film Festival will move there in 2018. 

"I would definitely like to see The Woodland used for more professional photographic and video shooting," he said. "I would like to see it on the radar of professional location scouts."

For more information on the facility and rental options, click HERE.

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