Avalon Foundation scrambles for funds

A construction bid has been approved for a major rehabilitation of the historic Avalon Theatre, but a funding shortfall from the foundation backing the project has the group pressing for a quick infusion of cash to get the initial phase started soon.

Robin Brown, development director of the Avalon Cornerstone Project, said three separate capital campaigns are being launched to get as much of the $1.5 million that is needed to begin the project.

The city of Grand Junction has already committed $3.1 million and the Downtown Development Authority has committed $3 million to rehab the aging theater.

Grand Junction general contractor FCI Constructors submitted the winning bid for the first phase of rehabilitation. Bids are good for 60 days after the date they are due, which means the clock began ticking on the FCI bid March 28.

Faced with the funding shortfall, Brown said the city and the DDA were working with FCI to “come up with a smaller project” and possibly an extension beyond the 60-day bid period.

“I think we’re going to end up meeting somewhere in the middle,” Brown said, referring to the capital her group hopes to raise in short order.

“We hope to get an initial rush of cash to put toward the first phase of the project,” she said.

The first campaign seeks $1,000 donations from 1,000 people. If individuals make the donation, they’ll be recognized on the Avalon Foundation website and eventual Grand Opening flyer, as well as receive a pin.

The next level campaign is a seat-buying program, where for $2,500 folks can sponsor a new seat in the theater. While names won’t appear on seats themselves, givers will be recognized on a plaque planned for the new Avalon lobby.

People may soon see about 20 of the current seats at the Avalon — infamous for needing some serious improvement — in visible locations around town. In conjunction with the seat-buying campaign, artists are being invited to decorate or creatively paint some of the old seats, which the Foundation plans to put on public display to raise awareness.

The final campaign aims to raise money through naming opportunities of items and rooms within the theater.

“They’ll start at $5,000 and go on up depending on whether you want your name on a bench, or you want your name on a room, or you want your name on a rooftop terrace,” Brown said. “There are all different amounts of money.”

The city must still sign off on amounts for specific rooms or amenities, but a higher-profile sponsorship of the anticipated rooftop terrace, for example, could fetch in the neighborhood of $1 million, Brown said. Also, two Avalon open houses are happening on consecutive Sundays this month, where people are invited to take a tour of the theater and find out details of the Avalon Cornerstone Project. There will be free popcorn, too.

The first open house is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. today and the second is April 28 during the same hours.

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