Avalon Theatre could change hands

The Grand Junction Downtown Development Authority has had “significant conversations” with city administrators about assuming ownership and operations of the Avalon Theatre, as stakeholders attempt to plot the course of the historic structure, the long-term future of which remains in limbo.

That is one of four or five scenarios city leaders who manage the theater at 645 Main St. have developed recently in an effort to determine what to do with an 86-year-old venue in need of significant internal upgrades but lacking funding. The others involve the city selling the theater to a private party or continuing to own and manage it.

City officials have had to scramble to keep the lights on at the Avalon after its primary occupant, the nonprofit Cinema at the Avalon, disbanded in November, ending a five-year run of nearly daily showings of foreign and independent films.

The city is now showing a mixture of mainstream, classic and independent films that offer showtimes 20 to 25 days each month, according to Tim Seeberg, manager of the Avalon and Two Rivers Convention Center. Officials also are planning a variety of other events and spending $1,000 to $2,000 a month to market the theater in the hopes of drawing more people, said Debbie Kovalik, executive director of the Visitor and Convention Bureau, the Avalon and Two Rivers.

Kovalik said by the end of June she will compile numbers showing how much money the city is taking in and spending on the Avalon.

Harry Griff, a member of the DDA board of directors and the Avalon Theatre Advisory Committee, said last week the city and the DDA have engaged in “significant conversations” about the DDA taking over management of the Avalon. Nothing has been decided, but should it happen, city officials say the DDA would focus on generating capital revenue to improve the theater but likely contract with the city or a nonprofit group to staff the theater because the DDA lacks the staff to do it itself.

Whatever is decided on future ownership of the Avalon, Griff said it’s imperative stakeholders take some type of action.

“We have to come to grips with: We’re either going to start over, or we need to invest in this building,” Griff said. “The absolute worst-case scenario is to maintain the status quo.”


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