Stage is set for theater renovation

Board expresses support for Avalon's $7.6M plan

There may be a happy ending after all in the ongoing saga of the Avalon Theatre.

During a meeting Friday, Grand Junction city councilors indicated support for a $7.6 million renovation plan that sets the stage for the original remodeled vision for the historic venue. The plan includes council backing of about $500,000 more than the original $3 million they had promised.

“I’m stunned. I did not see that coming at all,” said Robin Brown, development director for the fundraising effort, the Avalon Cornerstone Project.

Councilors had been hesitant until Friday to sign off on approval for a construction bid for the theater after the fundraising committee raised fewer contributions to date than expected and construction bids came in more expensive than anticipated.

The board expects to formally ratify the decision at an upcoming council meeting.

“This is a city-owned building. I do not want to see it go dark,” Mayor Sam Susuras said.

The approved project, labeled alternative B in literature for Avalon renovation plans, includes fully building out the frame of the remodel onto the current building. It includes creating an elevator shaft, but doesn’t cover the cost of an elevator. It will provide construction of bathrooms, but not include the fixtures.

City staff said they would apply for a Department of Local Affairs grant to cover some costs of construction. Councilors also are looking to members of the public to help fund the full project, a total project cost currently priced at $8.2 million, or $600,000 more than has been approved by the city.

Construction on the Avalon will include space for the multipurpose room, an expanded concessions area, more bathrooms, new seating and a dressing area for artists. It includes a glass-encased stairwell and lobby.

Renovations in the Avalon’s first phase don’t include accommodations for an orchestra.

Councilor Marty Chazen said that although he thought the project should be done correctly, instead of funding a bare-bones alternative, he stressed that the price tag was substantial for the city.

“This project is more than our budgeting on streets,” he said, citing the $2.5 million the city budgeted for overlay projects this year. “I think this is a risky alternative but I still think if we do something we should do it right.”

Councilors asked board members of the Downtown Development Authority if they would split the extra $500,000 difference with the city, but the DDA declined. The DDA also is contributing $3 million to the first phase of renovations.



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