Renovations

  • July 27, 2016

    Nashville, TN – Belcourt Theater’s Dramatic Remodel Expands Cultural Reach — And Accessibility

    Image

    From Nashville Public Radio: Six months after temporarily shutting its doors, the Belcourt Theatre reopened last week, showing off both new updates and meticulous preservations.

    The cinema has restored the designs of its two original theaters, built in 1925 and 1966. But the entrance to the 91-year-old building is modern, sleek and sunny with floor-to-ceiling windows. The seats are more comfortable, says executive director Stephanie Silverman, and the air conditioning now works consistently.

    After the ribbon-cutting, Silverman acknowledged there are big changes throughout – while proudly showing off the new women’s six-stall bathroom.

    Silverman says she’s especially excited about the bathrooms: They not only serve three times as many patrons as before, but they also are now fully accessible, as is the entire theater. Before the renovation, patrons in wheelchairs had to go to another building to use the restroom.

    “It’s hard to change things people love, and they really forgave us for a lot of sins,” she said. “But I hope that now it’s a place that is as supportive of the audience as the audience is of us.”

    The Belcourt, the first home of the Grand Ole Opry, has also expanded to a second floor that includes a third small screening room and an education space.

  • Batesville, AR – Melba Theater opening to celebrate old, new

    Image

    From the Three Rivers Edition: Downtown Batesville’s historic Melba Theater has come a long way from the deteriorating state the theater’s current owners found it in just over a year ago. Now, as the last bits of sawdust are being swept away and fresh layers of paint dry, the theater is wrapping up finishing touches and will soon reopen to the community.

    The grand opening of the Melba Theater, 115 W. Main St., will take place Aug. 12. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the event will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50. Melba Theater owners have spent a year updating and preparing the building for opening night and look forward to seeing people’s reactions to the improvements.

    “It’s been reiterated to us through people’s excitement,” said Janelle Shell, who co-owns the building with her husband, Joe, and another couple, Adam and Mandi Curtwright. “They remember their first movie here, their last movie [here], they remember their first date was here, their first job was here. There are so many attachments that people have to this particular theater that I think we’re excited to bring that back to life.”

    Owners encourage formalwear for the theater’s red-carpet-themed grand-opening celebration, which will include gift bags for guests.

    Adam, who while in banking school with Janelle in Memphis began brainstorming about bringing the theater back to life, has a personal connection to the building.

    “It was my first job in high school, working here,” he said. “My grandma, she graduated high school in this building.”

    The theater is believed to have opened in 1875 as an opera house. In 1916, the building was a mercantile store, then opened as the Melba Theater in 1940. The Batesville Commercial Historic District, which includes the theater, is part of the National Register of Historic Places.

    “The Melba actually opened down the block a little ways in 1934, but it opened here in 1940,” Joe said. “We’ve tried to maintain the history and the spirit of what they originally built there. The ticket booth had been moved to the side and changed, and there were several changes that’ve been made. We tried to kind of go back to the original, of the way it looked, and tried to restore as much as possible.”

    Ticket prices for movies at the 496-seat theater will be $4 across the board — no matter one’s age.

    “We are keeping our pricing low so that families have affordable, family-friendly entertainment,” Janelle said.

    Adam said that moviegoing is a fun experience because while he can’t remember every movie he’s ever seen, he can describe what the moment was like while viewing them.

    “That’s kind of what we were wanting to generate here,” he said. “It might not be the best movie in the world that’s being shown, it might not be the top-rated film of all time, but if you can come and have a good time, and you can afford it and actually sit back and let the rest of the world kind of go to the side for a minute and enjoy yourself, then I think that’s what we’re trying to do.”

    Joe said that many people who have visited the theater have a “Melba story.”

    “People that are not from this area that come in and visit say, ‘Oh, I was here back in the ’80s,’ or ‘I did this,’ or ‘I met my husband here,’” he said. “We met one lady whose dad died not long after he brought her here as a young child, and this is one of her few memories of her dad. It’s not just, ‘Oh, we went there and had fun.’ It’s a life-changing experience sometimes, which is an amazing thing to us.”

    Before renovations, Joe said, the building had water damage and asbestos, and also needed treatment for mold and termites. During work on the building, Adam even stepped through the floor because of weak wood. But the building’s steel structure proved sturdy, Joe said, and the owners did not have to replace the existing screen in the theater.

    “As in any old building or an old house or anything, you pull something back and you think, ‘Well, I’m going to fix this one thing,’” Joe said. “And you pull it back and find out you have to fix three things behind it in order to fix it. That’s a lot of the nature of what the job has been.”

  • July 26, 2016

    Mission, KS – Mission Theatre building on Johnson Drive to reopen as wedding and event space after renovation

    Image

    From the Shawnee Mission Post: The historic Mission Theatre building on Johnson Drive will reopen later this summer as a wedding venue, according to the owners who are in the process of rehabbing the building.

    The building has not been used as a movie theatre for a number of years. The renovation of the building started last fall. Main Street Events, an events management company now owns the property and intends to open it for weddings and other events when the renovation is complete.

    ”It’s such a privilege to be right in the heart of Mission, Kansas in an iconic building,” said Kip Unruh, owner of Main Street Events along with his wife, in a release. “It seems like every day people stop by to express their appreciation for the investment and work we are doing to restore this building and bring it back to life.”

    The theatre was built in 1938. Unruh said the renovation has tried to preserve as much of the past as possible. “I loved tearing into this building which was one of the first theatres in the country made from all concrete walls,” said Unruh. “We discovered some really cool things like the original glass block concession stand that we have protected and incorporated into the bar. Also, when we tore into the drop ceiling, we discovered a barrel vaulted wood ceiling. It was made from the original boards that were used to form the concrete walls and was covered up from the moment they finished the building in the early 1930’s. We are really looking forward to making this place come alive again.”

    The building will be available for all types of events – from corporate luncheons and gatherings to elaborate weddings. It will have a new stage and sound equipment plus a prepping area for caterers to serve up to 250 for a sit-down dinner or 425 for a standing party. Bride and groom suites will be in a loft area.

    The company is opening three venues by 2017, including one in Grandview and one 30 minutes south of Kansas City in a rustic barn on family property of the Unruhs.

    “We love being a part of the community of merchants on Johnson Drive. There’s something special going on here,” said Kris Unruh. “Some of the friendliest, hard- working people we have ever met are doing business shoulder-to-shoulder. They seem to really want each other to succeed and they’ve made us feel quite welcomed.”

  • July 23, 2016

    Chicago, IL – Congress Theater Hotel Rooms? They Are Part Of The Latest Overhaul Plans

    Image

    From DNAInfo: The massive overhaul of the historic Congress Theater took a new twist Thursday, with news that plans could include an additional 10-story residential building across the street from the theater.

    The new plans reveal the developer, New Congress LLC, also is considering building hotel rooms on the site.

    The theater, 2136 North Milwaukee Ave., has been closed since 2013.

    There have been multiple proposals presented by the developer over the last few years, but this is the first time the 10-story residential building has been considered.

    That new building would be built on a vacant lot across Rockwell Street from the theater and could include 120 residences, according to the plans.

  • July 20, 2016

    Coney Island, Brooklyn, NY – Coney Island’s Shore Theater, a Weathered Landmark, Is Reimagined

    Image

    From Curbed NY: In January this year, the landmarked Shore Theater on Coney Island was saved from total ruin when developer Pye Properties purchased the site for $20 million, and decided to restore it to its glory days. However the developer is still looking for tenants to lease the space, and with that they’ve unveiled a new rendering for the project, Brooklyn Daily reports, based on images first posted on the Coney Island Blog.

    The developer wants to restore the building’s theater and likely use it as an entertainment venue, in addition to converting a part of it into a hotel. Plans so far are in the preliminary stages, but the developer has brought on Commercial Acquisitions to scope out other tenants for the building. Some of the big tenants targeted so far include TJ Maxx and Starbucks, but it’s not exactly clear yet how they’ll fit in with the other plans. They’ve also reached out to the local community board to lease a space in the building.

  • July 15, 2016

    Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Theater rehab project in Cuyahoga Falls receives historic state tax credit

    Image

    From the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press: The Falls Theater rehabilitation project is getting state assistance.

    On June 26, the Ohio Development Services Agency awarded $27.8 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits to 26 applicants to rehabilitate 39 historic buildings, including the Falls Theater. Together, the projects are expected to leverage approximately $261.4 million in private investments in 14 communities.

    “Preserving these historic buildings will help revitalize neighborhoods and downtowns,” said David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Historic rehabilitation transforms underutilized properties into assets for communities.”

    The Falls Theater, at 2218-2220 Front St., was approved for a $249,999 tax credit. The total estimated cost of the project is $1.27 million.

    The historic Falls Theater space has two storefronts and four apartments on the second floor that have been empty for more than a decade, according to a news release from the Ohio Development Services Agency. Tax credits will help transform the theater space into a microbrewery and restaurant. The commercial and apartment spaces will be renewed for their original intent. The project is part of a newly revitalized Front Street.

  • July 13, 2016

    New Orleans, LA – The Former Gem Theater in Central City is Being Converted Into a Brewery

    Image

    From Curbed New Orleans: Wayward Owl Brewing announced last year they were taking over the old Gem Theater at 3940 Thalia St. in Central City, and now things are moving on the project. Canal Street Beat says the owner has filed plans for the renovation with the city.

  • July 12, 2016

    Bluefield, WV – Work to restore Granada Theater to its original glory continues

    Image

    From The Bluefield Daily Telegraph: For countless people, many fond memories are associated with the Granada Theater on Commerce Street in Bluefield.

    If all goes as planned, countless more people will have the opportunity to create memories there.

    That’s because a group of area residents interested in restoring the historic theater to its original glory, as well as preserving other structures in downtown Bluefield, made the effort to form an organization and get to work.

    “It all got started with the decline of all the buildings downtown, and more specifically the Granada Theater,” said Bluefield Preservation Society (BPS) member Julie Hurley.

    After the Colonial Theater was lost, she said, it became apparent to some of those who had those great memories of the downtown theaters that an initiative should start to save the Granada and other structures.

    Interested residents came together, including Hurley, Debrah Ammar, Doris Kantor, Gail Satterfield, Skip Crane and Hal Gusler, among others.

    “We formed in 2012 and began working with an architect to assess the building’s (Granada Theater) structural integrity,” Hurley said.

    Bill Huber of Marion was the architect because he has extensive experience in renovating historic theaters, she said.

    Achieving charitable organization status (501 3-C) status that same year, the group also started the process of applying for state and federal tax credits and for grants related to the work at the Granada.

    The Development Authority of Greater Bluefield had purchased the theater at auction.

    “The reason that the board purchased the building was to make sure that it is preserved,” authority member Charlie Cole said at that time. “We would like to see it preserved and become functional. The authority would like to see it become a functioning part of downtown.”

    The BPS was ready to roll.

    Fundraising efforts began to tackle the project, which will cost about $2.1 million.

    Hurley said the group has sold more than 4,000 jars of organic blueberry jam to raise money.

    Members also opened the Blue Moon Cafe just down the street from the theater to start raising money, with volunteers running the upscale, organic-based restaurant.

    Crane said many may not know that the Granada, which opened in the early 1920s, was built for stage performances as well.

    “It was built for vaudeville,” he said. “These were live productions and Bluefield was on that circuit.”

    Kantor said that in its heyday, some famous people visited Bluefield, including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Greer Garson.

    That history fits in well with plans for the theater, which at one time seated 1,106.

    Hurley said the original slope a the back of the theater will be rebuilt for seating and the stage will be set up for both screening movies and staging performances.

    A state-of-the-art sound system will be included.

    In the balcony area, in what is basically the second and third floors, tables will be set up with a kitchen and restrooms.

    “People can come to a dinner theater production and just sit in the balcony where they have eaten and watch or go to seats on the first floor,” Crane said, adding that the main floor will seat about 480 people.

    But the upper two levels will remain in the architectural design of the theater everyone remembers, Hurley said, which is a strict requirement going through government channels for grants and tax credits when preserving historic structures.

    The main level will look the same as it once did, she added.

    Kantor said it will be a multi-use facility, providing a venue for performances and movie screenings as well as other functions that should attract people to the downtown area.

    “We can’t bring back what was here (in the downtown area) 50 years ago,” she said. “But we can bring it back as a destination.”

    The idea is, in the long run, to make the facility self-sustaining.

    One of the ways to do that will be using the 5,000-sq.-ft. basement for kiosks.

    “Plans are in the works to do that,” Hurley said, explaining that it will be set up where vendors can simply leave their products there and tagged. Someone will man the floor, collect the money, which will be shared with the vendor and facility, much like some antique and collectible kiosk-based businesses operate.

    Two side rooms on the first floor at the entrance on each side of what was once the concession area can also be utilized and could include a museum.

    Hurley said this project is moving along, and some may think no progress is being made because it is not yet obvious from the outside.

    But grant and tax credit processes are long, and replacing the roof was time-consuming because the way it was built required the work to be done a certain way. The historic rehabilitation process with the state took time, and creating the construction documents did as well.

    “You may not see it yet, but progress is being made,” she said.

    “The process we have to go through behind the scenes is a lot of work,” Ammar, who is BPS president, said. “There is only so much we can do without the proper approval.”

    Not only will the theater be restored, it will also have an original piece of the decor and ambiance – a Wurlitzer Style EX, Opus 1790, theater organ.

    The organ left the Granada years ago and was taken to the Evans Theater in Indiana, and from there it was transferred to Huntington and installed at the Keith Albee Theater.

    A mutual friend of Crane and Thomas Lester of Bluewell, former Bramwell resident Bob Edmunds, discovered the organ while teaching at Marshall University in Huntington. It became available when the Keith Albee’s original organ was found.

  • July 8, 2016

    Flint, MI – Renovation work begins on Capitol Theatre, grand re-opening set for fall 2017

    Image

    From MLive.com: Officials are ready to kick off renovations at The Capitol Theatre building with today’s announcement that Uptown Reinvestment Corp. and The Whiting have officially acquired the building.

    The revamped theater is slated to reopen in Fall 2017.

    The project, which will include complete modernization of the entire building and restoring historically significant elements of the facility, is expected to take 14 to 16 months to complete. With the updates comes all-new, state-of-the-art theatrical and production equipment, according to a Tuesday, July 5, news release from The Whiting and Uptown Reinvestment Corp.

    Officials said previously that the project was expected to cost $21 million and includes renovations of 25,000 square feet of attached office and retail space.

    “We are thrilled to be at this point and to begin field work on the restoration of this iconic arts and entertainment venue in Flint. More exciting still are the opportunities a reactivated, modernized Capitol Theatre will create for our entire community,” said Jarret Haynes, executive director for The Whiting.

    Uptown Reinvestment Corp. will handle the redevelopment and restoration while The Whiting and its governing body, the Flint Cultural Center Corp., will manage operations, programming and marketing.

    “The unique and complementary partnership between URC and the Flint Cultural Center, through The Whiting, demonstrates the broad support and commitment for this project, and bodes well for its ultimate and long term success, both artistically and in terms of economic benefits for Flint and the entire region,” said Tim Herman, president of Uptown Reinvestment Corp.

    The theater will seat about 1,600, Haynes said previously. Built in Italian Renaissance style, one ceiling was designed after the outer vestibule of St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome, according to Flint Journal files, and interior walls recreate views of buildings that evoke old Italy.

    The building also hosted a mishmash of live concert performances, including AC/DC, Ray Charles, John Mellencamp and Mel Tillis from the late 1970s until the theater portion of the building closed about 20 years ago.

  • July 7, 2016

    San Francisco, CA – Classic S.F. theater reborn as dinner-and-a-movie site

    Image

    From The Sacramento Bee: Chicken-liver mousse pairs well with Colonial American horror, it turns out.

    The recently opened, five-screen Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District offers a food menu consisting mostly of easy-to-eat-in-the-dark items common to dine-in theaters, such as pizza and sandwiches. But we started our meal, consumed while watching the low-budget, 17th-century New England-set film “The Witch,” with the menu’s most gourmet offering.

    Fanciness seemed in keeping with a 1916 theater that had just undergone a $10 million, four-year-long rehab to restore it to its former grandeur, after some inglorious years spent as a mattress storage facility. The New Mission marks the first foray into California by Alamo Drafthouse, the Texas theater chain that popularized the idea of in-theater drink and meal service.

    The mousse went down smoothly, its sharpness cut by the huckleberry jam accompanying it. It remained palatable even during more disturbing moments of “The Witch,” in which bonnet-ruffling forces of evil beset a Puritan family.

    Part of the ease with which our party of two consumed the mousse, along with a Brussels-sprouts salad, Nashville “hot chicken” sandwich, plus a Coke and a Knee Deep Citra Extra Pale Ale (the theater chain that put “draft” in its name offers 28 beers on tap, including this offering from Auburn), can be attributed to vast experience with movie-theater eating.

    We’ve shoveled in popcorn, candy, nachos and reheated pizza while watching horror films since the 1980s. Made-to-order food prepared in a real kitchen, led by a real chef (Ronnie New, formerly of San Francisco’s Comstock Saloon), and served to us at the table between our seats felt less like a foreign concept than a luxurious extension of past experiences (though neither the $16 sandwich nor $12 salad tasted near as good as the $11 mousse).