December 2, 2016
From WTOV-9: The Grand Theatre in downtown Steubenville has seen a massive amount of reconstruction during the past several years.
And a crucial piece of the historical building – it’s stage – was worked on Monday, free of charge, thanks to the folks at Byers Concrete.
“If this place can get rolling, the sky is the limit on what they can do with it,” said Jonathan Byers, owner of the concrete business.
Byers said when he came down and saw what it entailed, he immediately knew he was in.
“This is exciting to me,” he said. “Because the atmosphere walking into this building, the history behind it, and just walking in here, it kind of gives you a different, weird kind of energy."
The theatre has seen a number of volunteers and businesses donate in some fashion during the past 6 years.
“I think without that, we wouldn’t get it done,” said Scott Dressel, president, Grand Theatre Restoration Project. “Especially in a community that has been struggling as hard as Steubenville.”
“Anybody that is interested in putting up about 10,000 square foot of drywall on a ceiling that’s 5/8th thick, we need someone to do that,” Dressel said with a laugh.
Byers hopes, like has, that others will follow suit.
“There’s a lot of people that maybe don’t realize how big of a deal this is,” Byers said. “If this place could get kickin again, it might open up something big down here.
“Little positive things like this, hopefully it’ll boost something bigger, and then it’ll overcast all that negativity that goes on around this area."
If you would like to lend a hand and volunteer at the Grand Theatre, you can contact Dressel at 740-632-2899.
December 1, 2016
From The American Press: A restored marquee and a new paint job will soon greet visitors to the historic Strand Theater in downtown Jennings. Work has begun on a $75,000 face-lift project, which is expected to continue through the spring.
“The Strand Theater is our pride and joy on Main Street, and it just needed a face-lift,” said City Project Coordinator Dusty Chaisson.
The theater, built in 1939, still hosts plays, music shows, classic movies, pageants and other events, but was “looking rundown,” said manager Lin Fake.
“We want the public to be proud and see Main Street Jennings for what it was back in the day,” Chaisson said. “We are very proud to try to restore the pride and take care of a historical structure that offers service to the community that so many other cities do not have.”
Not many old historical buildings like the Strand Theater are still being used today, he said. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The old marquee has been removed and is being restored, cracks in the facade are being repaired and windows are being replaced. Crews are also working to repaint the exterior in the theater’s original colors, which were hidden under layers of paint.
“It is going to be a painted lady, like it originally was,” Fake said. The retro colors will include hues of violet, red and yellow.
The theater last underwent renovations just prior to the 1993 Hollywood-style premiere of John Sayles’ “Passion Fish,” which was filmed in the Jennings and Lake Arthur area.
November 23, 2016
From the News Tribune: Comfy seats that help the acoustics. New plaster and paint. An outdoor performance plaza. Seismic safety. Symphony and band concerts in Tacoma’s Armory.
Those are some of the additions the Broadway Center is planning as part of the 2018-19 restoration of the 1918 Pantages Theater.
But first it must raise the final $6.5 million of a $24.5 million budget to pay for it. That campaign will kick off Monday in the Pantages lobby with a presentation, design previews and a sample of the new seats.
“We are setting up the Pantages to serve the South Sound community for the next 100 years,” said Sara Kendall, campaign chairwoman and board member for the Broadway Center, which manages the city-owned Pantages, Rialto and Theater on the Square.
“We want to keep it as a citizens’ asset, but we need to involve the whole community (in fundraising).”
Of the total budget, $15 million has been secured, with $8 million from the city of Tacoma and $7 million from tax credits. Another $3 million from the state is to be confirmed.
Kendall and Broadway Center Executive Director David Fischer say they hope most of the remaining $6.5 million will be raised before construction starts on the historic theater in May 2018.
Any gaps are expected to be filled from money raised through 2019 from donors rewarded with their names noted on their seats.
The Pantages and the adjacent Theater on the Square are to reopen in October 2019, Fischer said.
Exterior work on the building — costing $2 million and completed over the summer — included cleaning, new windows, terra cotta repair and a paint job, including the bright red blade sign.
Other elements of the restoration already announced include:
▪ Seismic refitting in a new design by the Tacoma design-engineering firm AHBL that lowers costs to $8.3 million.
▪ New seats for both theaters that will enhance acoustics, as well as a seat redesign in the Pantages with a center aisle and narrower rows that adds 140 seats to the 1,160 capacity, plus redesign of box seating.
▪ Restoration of plaster and paintwork.
▪ New light fittings for the house.
▪ A 14-foot, two-story extension to the building in the loading zone between the Pantages box office and stage door, allowing for quicker and cheaper set loading.
▪ ADA-friendly drop-off zone.
▪ Custom-built acoustic shell for the Pantages stage, with costs possibly shared by the Symphony Tacoma.
▪ An improved lobby for the Theater on the Square, including a door leading to the park area (which eventually might be redesigned), more restrooms and a permanent exhibit on civic leadership in Tacoma.
New to the restoration plans is $1.1 million for outfitting the Armory for performances during the Pantages’ closure.
Originally dropped as too expensive, work on the historic brick building at 715 S. 11th St. will include modifying its steep loading ramp, plus additions inside to improve the boomy acoustics. These could range from baffles to drapes to spray-on acoustic foam, said Fischer, who doesn’t know the details.
The fund will pay for portable equipment such as seating, risers and lights that can be used in other venues.
It also will offset financial losses for the two resident arts organizations that might use the venue — Symphony Tacoma and the Tacoma Concert Band — and the Broadway Center itself.
The Armory is owned by developer Fred Roberson, but its street-level drill floor is managed by the Broadway Center, and Roberson has promised to donate the building to the nonprofit center in his will.
In addition, he has installed more restrooms on the drill floor level and is working to renovate the northern end into dressing rooms and a green room by 2018.
Yet, as Fischer acknowledges, the building wasn’t built for instrumental acoustics.
“It’s pretty bad right now,” said Robert Musser, director of the Tacoma Concert Band, who held a trial rehearsal there in October. “The acoustics are really poor for any large ensemble: too bright, too loud, too harsh and hard to hear lines.
“I’m sure there’s a way to make it acceptable, with enough money.”
Other arts organizations will use the Rialto or the Theater on the Square, or — as the Tacoma City Ballet is doing – venues outside Tacoma.
Also new to the plans is an outdoor plaza on the grassy slope between the Pantages lobby and the street.
Graded at lobby level and including benches and a small stage, the area will be able to be covered, allowing for outdoor busking and performances. An electronic reader board on the street side will replace the light bulb marquee.
Acoustic amplification initially included in the plans has been dropped due to costs and because it would impinge on historic plasterwork in the Pantages.
About $2 million will go toward the fundraising campaign and other costs.
Finally, $2.3 million initially intended for an endowment fund has been allocated to 10 years of future programming by the Broadway Center, which is a separate producing entity as well as a contracted theater manager.
The programming will include in-house productions, education and community showcases, Fischer said, and free tickets or events. There also will be an annual leadership program in collaboration with the University of Washington Tacoma and the Washington State History Museum.
“The Pantages is a treasure, but I’m particularly interested in the programming fund,” said state Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma, one of the many elected officials headlining the campaign. “The arts in Tacoma are so important for the growth of the city … and the Broadway Center has done a lot to engage really diverse communities.
“I’m very supportive of keeping that going so that the arts are important for every person in our community, not just some.”
Fischer sees the campaign as a continuation of the Broadway Center’s history of bringing government and community together for the arts.
“It was the Broadway Center who started the first private-public partnership (for city development) in 1979, with the saving of the Pantages,” he said. “We’re proud of that.”
For Kendall, the value of the $24.5 million restoration lies in a place for Tacoma to gather.
“The theaters represent the heartbeat of the community, a place where we come to have our minds opened and share experiences,” she said. “This becomes a place for bringing the community together.”
Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article115935283.html#storylink=cpy
From the News-Review: A theater in Sault Ste. Marie is preparing to be restored to its 1930s glory through a $7 million capital campaign.
The Soo Theatre Project is receiving support from the Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Development Authority, which pledged their resources and connections Wednesday to help complete the project in conjunction with the Sault’s 350th anniversary in 2018, the Evening News of Sault Ste. Marie (http://bit.ly/2fS4VTK ) reported.
The authority’s director, Justin Knepper, said the project is getting closer to launching a capital campaign. Through grant matching and money raised from a summer concert series, there’s $70,000 in an account that can be used only for repairing the theater’s failing roof.
“People are excited and there’s people talking about it,” said Knepper. “With our movie theater being gone, the Soo Theatre has been playing movies. There’s a lot more people going in there saying, ‘What the heck? Why isn’t this thing fixed?’”
An architectural rendering in 2014 estimated it would cost nearly $7 million to restore the theatre to its original Spanish castle theme. A further estimate indicated the exterior and roof would be $650,000.
“We pretty much have the entire detailed package ready to go in terms of starting a fundraiser process from a scientific standpoint,” said Knepper.
He said 2018 could be the year the Soo Theatre restoration is made possible.
“Maybe construction starts or we hit our goal with the fundraiser,” said Knepper.
November 15, 2016
From wtov9.com: Work continues on the Grand Theater’s original pipe organ.
Every saturday, volunteers meet in Steubenville to restore the music maker.
The “Wurlitzer” dates back to 1924 when it was used to provide a soundtrack for silent films.
“We really want to bring it back to celebrate what Steubenville was and the pipe organ is one of the coolest things that we’ll have back here,” Scott Dressel with the Grand Theater Restoration Project said. “It’ll make a lot of noise when it’s ready.”
The project is expected to be finished between Christmas and May 2017.
As a fundraiser, individuals and businesses can sponsor a pipe.
November 14, 2016
From Our Time Press: In the pioneering spirit of barn-raising, The Black Lady Theatre at 750 Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn is being renovated. Leading the extensive rehabilitation are Clarence, Jr. 2X and Omar Hardy, the father and son team who dedicate themselves to realizing the wishes of the deceased Supreme Court Judge John L. Phillips.
The theater encompasses much of the 5,325-sq.-ft. lot. The 500-seat theater space is located in the basement where carpenters have recently installed a new wooden stage. The balcony and lobby are on the first floor and the conference area is on the second floor. Omar Hardy explained, “The plan is to build two additional floors. The roof will hold a garden and an event space”.
This project comes together through a friends-helping-friends construction process. Mark “The Builder” Douglas is the construction manager. Douglas is a licensed and insured electrical contractor who secures the subcontractors. Douglas explains, “The objective is to uplift our people to be self-sufficient. Professionalism, being on time and qualified are essential”. Douglas brought on Sheldon Douglas, who is a carpenter, and CSGN Contracting’s Johnny E. Robayo, a glass and façade contractor. It is Robayo’s installation of the glass front that achieves the visual impact of the rebirth of “The Black Lady”.
Given the low level of financing, the team has relied heavily on volunteer labor. For example, Omar’s younger brothers, Devon and Isaiah Howard, do “soup to nuts…from site preparation to finishing”.
The marketing firm Open House New York promoted the grand reopening weekend of October 15-16, 2016 free of charge. Standing in front of the gleaming glass doors that reveal many murals in the lobby, Mark Douglas estimates the work will be completed by December 2016. To mark this milestone, the Hardys and Douglas are in preliminary discussions with the producer of “Oz Comes to Brooklyn”. Douglas gives the last Sunday in December as the tentative performance date.
“I was born for this task and my father always wanted to do business with his family,” muses Omar Hardy. He believes getting to this point where the public can see the theater is coming back to life is due to “remaining on our square and staying true to the mission”.
The complete development team includes Clarence, Jr. 2X Hardy, Omar Hardy, Administrator Christie Williams, Construction Manager Mark Douglas and Byron Wilson. Wilson does not state his title. Rather, Wilson explains his plan to “establish renewable energy technologies that take the premises off the grid”. Wilson estimates the cost amounting to $10,000.
Further, Wilson intends to use smart building procedures. He plans to set up solar canopies and an aquaponic greenhouse that grows food. Wilson asserts, “This will be a farm-to-table operation where we sell to local bodegas. The aquaponic greenhouse uses the waste of tilapia fish. The fish itself will not be sold for consumption”.
Between April and October 2016, the team has accomplished clearing the theater of rubbish. “We’ve filled 20 containers with trash. We financed the carting company’s services through fundraisers. One hundred bags of rubbish were picked up by the NYC Sanitation Department,” explains Hardy.
This reporter had a sit-down interview with Omar Hardy on October 27, 2016. In preparation of the meeting, records within the NYC Finance Department, Buildings Department and the Environmental Protection Department on the premises were reviewed.
Q: Has your organization contacted Brooklyn Community District Office No. 8 to request to make a presentation before the community or to just leave event notices at community board meetings?
Hardy: Information drop-offs would be done through Zulika Bumpus (another team member). I’m not sure whether the event notice was left at the district office or at a general meeting. I recognize that I should present to the community what is happening at The Black Lady Theatre.
Note: Zulika Bumpus was contacted by telephone and e-mail on October 27, 2016 to inquire about outreach to local high schools, houses of worship and Brooklyn Community District Office No. 8. Bumpus explained on the telephone that she was leaving for an event and has not answered the e-mail.
Q: Have you contacted any local houses of worship to notify them about the rehabilitation occurring at the theater?
Hardy: We haven’t had contact with the local houses of worship. As far as having them know about the rehab, No. We’ve reached out to individuals, organizations and anyone who I believe should know. I’ve been thinking in terms of after the construction is completed and the place is ready for rental.
In all, the Q-and-A session was driven by 13 questions. It was revealed the development team’s community outreach was limited due to the decision to postpone community outreach until after the construction is complete. They have not communicated with Crown Heights North Association (CHNA). This organization has a successful track record of historic landmark district designation. Given the artistic and historic value of this theater, developing a strategic alliance with CHNA would be prudent. From April 2016 to October 2016, the work consisted of site preparation, painting, glass front installation and floor tiling. Hardy could not say which floor would be 75% complete by December 31, 2016.
The types of trades that have been on-site at any given time include security (provided by a private company and internal surveillance), electricians, carpenters and a plumber.
A New York City research agency uncovered two critical conditions: 750 Nostrand Avenue, Block 1240, Lot 38 was part of an assignment of a tax lien, document date April 30, 2016, where Party 1 is Bank of New York Mellon and Party 2 Bank of New York Mellon. A Tax Lien Sale Certificate was entered into record on August 10, 2016. Mr. Hardy acknowledges, “The tax issue needs to be handled. It is part of the reason for his focus on completing key rehabilitation areas”.
“Opening the doors to the community is critical [because] it permits us offering programs to the community that generates revenue” may be a guiding mantra that Omar Hardy keeps in the forefront of his mind. In view of this direct action, it behooves this committed team to direct its legal counsel to respond to the property vesting action.
November 11, 2016
From The Athens Review: A clean-up, preliminary to construction at the Texan Theater location is underway this week.
Athens Community Development Manager Thanasis “Nasi” Kombos said the current work is clean-up.
“They’re doing some clean-up inside the theater,” Kombos said. “They’ll be wrapping up around the middle part of next week.”
It will be after the first of the year before any construction begins on the project.
“The architect is working right now on the construction documents, which are anticipated to be completed at the end of January,” Kombos said. “Assuming that funding is secured for the project, at that point, I would anticipate that we will be moving with construction.”
David Chase of ArchiTexas told the Athens City Council in October construction of the project should last another nine months, making completion of the theater about a year away.
The remaining structure of the theater, built in the 1940s, will be part of a new venue. But once patrons walk past the restored Texan sign, the venue will be quite different from the movie theater where a couple of generations of Athens area residents went for entertainment.
The original Texan Theater had a sloping floor. The new venue will have a flat floor to make it more for multi-purpose use. The type of roof chosen was an enclosed overlapping structure. A mezzanine section will be located above the restrooms. Once imagined as an outdoor venue, it will now be enclosed and air conditioned.
The south side of the building, where the neon Texan sign was located, will still be the main entry, but access will be possible from the back. The back masonry wall will be taken down, and replaced by a glass wall. A roll-up door will be located at the back.
November 7, 2016
From Thurston Talk: There is something magical about the glow of a Marquee sign. It brings fond memories of soda fountains and the golden age of Hollywood. If you grew up in the area, you may remember when the historic Fox Theatre lit up South Tower Avenue in Centralia. Nestled in amidst the old shops, it was a hub of activity when it opened in 1930 as part of the Fox West Coast Theatre chain. At the time, it was a 1,200 seat art-deco theatre that ran as a movie theater until 1999. But then the films stopped. The marquee went out, darkening the entire street. It was a stark reminder against the skyline that the city had seen better days.
Almost a decade later, in 2008, Scott White moved back home to Centralia with one goal in mind: to do something about the darkened theater. He founded the non-profit Historic Fox Theatre Restorations and has been the President of the Board of Directors ever since. This is a 100-percent volunteer position for him.
“After spending 20 years working in the entertainment industry, I hoped to use some of the experience I gathered along the way to make the project a success,” Scott says. “Having grown up in Centralia, the Fox Theatre was a very important part of my childhood and was the beginning of a lifelong love of theater and movies.”
The group’s ultimate goal is a complete restoration of the building, inside and out, to its former 1930s glory. But, Scott, says, this doesn’t mean it won’t be able to handle today’s needs when it comes to technology.
From The Buffalo News: A historic commercial building that was once part of Shea’s Seneca Theatre in South Buffalo is now destined for reuse, with developer Jake Schneider planning a mix of apartments, a theatre and performance art space in the 88-year-old structure.
Schneider Development on Monday said it wants to spend $9 million to renovate the vacant and underused property at 2178 Seneca St., restoring its original architecture and bringing the building back to life as part of the latest adaptive reuse project in the city, and particularly along Seneca Street.
“We’re very excited about the neighborhood. It’s a well-established and proud community with great assets to build upon,” he said. “It is our hope that this project will serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Seneca Street commercial corridor.”
Located at the intersection of Seneca and Cazenovia streets, near Cazenovia Park, the historic two-story brick building was originally constructed in 1929 by well-known regional cinema icon Michael Shea, who built Shea’s Buffalo downtown, the North Park Theatre in North Buffalo, and several other iconic movie and entertainment houses that have since been demolished. With 2,500 seats, Shea’s Seneca was once said to be the largest community theater in the city, and grandly featured a colored marble lobby, ornamental plaster and arched windows. It also had a Wurlitzer theater organ, which was played on opening night in 1930 during the showing of The Mighty.
October 30, 2016
The state of Indiana is kicking in $50,000 to help pay for restoration of the historic Town Theatre in Highland.
The lieutenant governor’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs and Office of Tourism Development announced Thursday they are providing the money as part of a matching grant program that promotes quality of place improvements across the state.
“The intent of this fund is to reward creativity and resourcefulness,” said Mark Newman, state tourism director. “The impact to quality of life and ultimately tourism will be great.”