Huge Improv Theater has a new home — and, in a rare move for a small arts nonprofit, the Minneapolis organization is buying the building.

For the first time in Huge Theater's nearly two decades, the improv company will own its stage after purchasing property this month on Lyndale Avenue S. for $2.4 million. The new site is a half-mile from the place where the company has been leasing space since 2011.

It's a big deal for Huge Theater to finally own a building, which will help it generate revenue, build equity and expand its improv classes and shows, said co-executive director Butch Roy. The theater has seven full-time employees and 18 to 24 part-timers.

"It's hard to put into words how much a relief it is," he said. "It feels like we've crossed a threshold into a much more secure future."

Instead of going through a constant cycle of leases, Roy said ownership gives the theater more stability. It will be ramping up fundraising to support the move and construction costs, he said.

The theater, which started in 2005, has been leasing space at 3037 Lyndale Av. S. with plans to move to a bigger location when the lease expired last month. Theater officials initially signed a 10-year lease with Art Materials to rent part of its building at 2728 Lyndale Av. S., less than four blocks away from the theater's longtime home. But then purchasing the building, rather than renting it, came up as an option.

Bank after bank turned down Huge Theater for a loan, Roy said, saying it was too risky to lend money to a theater with small cash reserves, especially after losing money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minneapolis-based Propel Nonprofits finally connected Huge Theater with IFF (formerly the Illinois Facilities Fund), which provided a 15-year loan.

Like many other performing arts groups, Huge Theater was forced to cancel shows in 2020 and 2021 and shut its doors for 16 months. Roy said some government aid helped the organization stay financially afloat, but banks didn't want to take on the risk of a loan despite predictions of increasing revenue in the wake of the pandemic.

"On paper, our numbers show a history of growth," he said.

Its new home, a 1920s-era building, has long been owned and occupied by Art Materials. The art supply store will lease space there while Huge Theater occupies the remaining 6,700 square feet.

That almost doubles the theater's current space, adding more classrooms and seats for performances. As renovation work continues, shows have temporarily relocated to the Center for Performing Arts in south Minneapolis.

First performances at the new location are slated for Oct. 13, and the theater will hold a grand opening on Oct. 20-21.

"It's super exciting," Roy said. "It's really hard to overstate what a difference it can make."