It’s official: City gives $3M for Avalon renovation
Cheers and clapping went up as a packed crowd applauded a decision by Grand Junction city councilors Wednesday to chip in more than $3 million for a first phase of renovations at the Avalon Theatre.
Councilor Marty Chazen cast the sole vote against, explaining that he thinks theater should be treated as a commercial venture and the cost was high, as the city’s sales tax revenue is down $1.4 million this year as of May. The measure passed 5-1.
The formal vote allows construction to start on a $7.6 million first phase of renovations at the historic structure. Contractor FCI will be working on the project.
Grand Junction’s Downtown Development Authority and the Avalon Theatre Foundation Board have chipped in a little more than half of the costs of the first phase.
Renovations include building out a shell of the building, which can be more easily altered in future construction phases.
Workers will create an elevator shaft, but the price tag doesn’t cover the cost of an elevator. It will provide construction of bathrooms, but not include the fixtures. Construction will include space for a multipurpose room, an expanded concessions area, more bathrooms, new seating and a dressing area for artists. It includes a glass-encased stairwell and lobby.
Members of the Avalon Theatre Foundation Board are looking to grants and public fundraising to fill in the funding gaps to complete the Avalon’s original vision.
While about 50 people in attendance were thrilled about the councilors’ decision, not everyone was.
Kent Carson said after the meeting that he thinks the money could have been better spent, by investing it in construction of a brand-new facility. He isn’t fond of the contemporary glass-encased staircase and lobby tacked on to a nearly century-old building.
“There’s so many other things that the money could be spent on,” Ruth Ehlers said. “There are a few streets I’d like to see them fix.”
Councilor Jim Doody noted that spending the $3 million on the Avalon started nearly a year ago, the idea originating with the former council. Councilors then initially considered offering $1 million to the renovation, but then abruptly voted to chip in $3 million.
“I’ll be supporting this as I have been for the last 364 days,” Doody said.