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New marijuana business forcing Christian Youth Theater to move

New marijuana business forcing Christian Youth Theater to move

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - Legalized marijuana is sprouting new businesses in Washington, especially in Spokane County, where there are now nine state-licensed marijuana growers in the county, more than any other county in the state.

However, while new businesses are moving in, they're inadvertently forcing some others out.

Take for example the Christian Youth Theater, which is preparing for a production that opens this weekend at the Bing Crosby Theater. The Bing isn't the issue so much as their regular location in Spokane Valley. Because a pot business is moving in the theater is moving out.

Christian Youth Theater has operated out of a converted warehouse in Spokane Valley for the last seven years. Memories of past performances hang on the wall where people wear values on their sleeves. Rehearsals for the Music Man and Oklahoma have hummed through the halls, the costume closet and dance studio.

Now they'll have to leave it all behind because a new production is roaring in.

"It was funny and scared all at the same time, because you're thinking youth theater and marijuana," Kristine Lyons with the Christian Youth Theater said.

Potential marijuana growers are leasing out a space in the same complex as the theater. The property is owned by Mountain Gear and state laws require any pot grow must be 1,000 feet away from a school or places where children often recreate like the theater. That means the theater now has to move.

"You just never think it affects you so it was one of those type of surprises," Lyons said.

The property owner says it was simply a business decision. They've given the theater seven years of reduced rent and now they're trading it in for a tenant paying top dollar for a large 32,000 square foot facility.

Despite the unexpected change in location, Christian Youth Theater doesn't feel like the victim.

"My 14-year-old was a little confused just why a children's theater company would be displaced but on the other hand change and growth is a great thing for her to be able to understand and grow," CYT parent Amy Kells said.

Christian Youth Theater opens Beauty and the Beast Jr., a production with 100 kids involved, this weekend at the Bing Crosby Theater.

Pictures will be taken at the performance; they just hope to find a new wall to hang them on.

"Really what we're looking for is a new place to call home, and hopefully home for a very long time," Lyons said.

The theater has been very happy with the landlord and it completely understands the situation that is forcing it to move by June 30. Some promising prospects have come along in their search for a new home.