Avalon Theatre renovation, Act 1, nearly complete

A worker surfaces the rooftop terrace where guests of the newly renovated Avalon Theatre will be able to enjoy views of Main Street bustle below, and vistas of the Bookcliffs range and Grand Mesa in the distance. The theater will be open to the public in mid-September.

“Oh, what a view,” Bobbi Alpha said, catching her breath after climbing a few flights of stairs. Alpha is a board member of the Avalon Theatre Foundation and was getting a tour of the construction of the Avalon Theatre’s rooftop terrace for the first time Thursday.

Alpha’s view, just a few floors above serpentine Main Street, splayed out with unobstructed vistas of the Bookcliffs range and lingering snow on Grand Mesa.

She was on the top floor of the construction project going up at Main and Seventh streets, the first-phase remodel of the historic Avalon Theatre.

It’s common for curious folks and drivers to gawk at the eastern wing of the theater rising up from the ground, its workers toiling on all three levels. Many saw a now-redacted June 1 opening date on a large banner outside.

Although a construction timetable is on track, the theater won’t open to the public until mid-September. Officials had considered opening the theater portion to the public by June, when it is expected to be finished. New construction, the eastern wing, had been slated for an early fall opening. However, city officials determined that occupancy standards would be difficult to delineate for both sides of the building by opening at separate times, said Robin Brown, development director for Avalon’s fundraising effort, the Cornerstone Project. Brown said she recently redacted the June 1 opening from the sign because, “It was just getting too confusing,” regarding conflicting construction end dates.

The inside of the original theater is nearing completion, though. Cheek walls, or walls that butt in a bit from the Avalon’s exterior walls and create a frame for the stage, are completed. Carpet is arriving May 7 and seats will be along a week after that. The ceiling of the theater is unchanged, a savings of about $100,000, Brown said. However, costs were not spared on getting the acoustics just right, she said.

Views of the stage make it seem surprisingly up close, even from the theater’s nosebleed section, an area that was carved out after the former projection room was removed. The theater’s upper-most seating will hold 200 patrons. Also, those seats have been spread out so that people can relax and not have their knees in the backs of the chair in front of them.

“There wasn’t a bad seat in the house,” Brown said, about pre-construction seating. “There were uncomfortable seats, but we’re changing that.”

The new brick multi-purpose room is prominent in the public’s exterior view. Its floor-to-ceiling height is as large as it looks from the outside, with about a 30-foot ceiling. The room will be used for events that don’t require the full theater, such as Tuesday nights’ Dinner and a Movie promotion.

Construction that edges up to Main Street will include a mostly glass mezzanine and the rooftop terrace.

“The walls are all in everywhere. Anywhere you don’t see walls, will be glass,” Brown said, talking loudly over the whir of a welder securing the stairs. “What a great place to have a cocktail party, huh?”

The Avalon Theatre Foundation has about $400,000 more to raise. The group met its fundraising goal of $1.1 million, but opted to raise an additional $500,000 when the costs of the project increased.

The Take Your Seat campaign for the general public is wrapping up and fundraisers now will seek donations from corporations.

“The main goal is to sell a big naming opportunity,” Brown said. “We’re trying for the rooftop terrace or the multipurpose room.”

Already the Avalon Theatre Foundation has secured donors for the south main lobby and the balcony, she said.

Just more than 600 folks have donated to the current Avalon project, Brown said.

Total costs of the project are pegged at $9.65 million.


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