Plan would speed Avalon renovation

It’s just an idea, but a new plan is brewing to more quickly refurbish the most pressing needs at the Avalon Theatre.

Plans already are under way to raise about $14 million in funds to fully refurbish the historic theater, 645 Main St., but that timeline doesn’t have construction starting for three to four years.

A new idea aims to use $3 million in funds that already are dedicated to the project by the Downtown Development Authority to start on some construction while those costs are reasonable.

“A lot of us would like to have something sooner than later,” said Steve Thoms, a board member with the DDA. “Anything we can do to get the Avalon more use would be a boon for downtown.”

A current plan for the Avalon includes raising $8 million to start the first phase of three-phase plan. Phase one included enlarging the stage, creating an orchestra pit, and updating aging heating and ventilation systems.

However, some are suggesting that more pressing needs at the Avalon be fixed first, some improvements that have been included in the project’s second-phase. Bathrooms at the Avalon are on the second floor and the building is not designed for people with disabilities. Seats at the Avalon have long been uncomfortable for patrons. An alternate theater for about 100 people and installing portable seats would allow people to watch films and continue to generate revenue.

Current needs at the Avalon could be completed without having to close the facility for more than a year and disrupt the momentum that has been building there, DDA director Harry Weiss said at a recent Grand Junction City Council workshop.

Even Grand Junction City Council members have said they are on board with a more expedited plan to update the Avalon, and suggested they may dedicate dollars to the project.

The Avalon is a city-owned entity. An expanded offering of programs in the past couple years has helped to keep operations out of the red.

The DDA had pledged up to $3 million to support Avalon renovations by offering $1 for every $3 raised by the fundraising committee. Weiss said at the city workshop that it might make more sense to dedicate the money now to construction rather than wait until costs increase.


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I like this plan. Let it happen in 2012.

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