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What’s old is new again at the Colony

Plan remains to renovate and re-use what’s there

April 6, 2011
By Ashley Hill ( , The Marietta Times

The Colony Theatre's director of development, Hunt Brawley, expects that any day now, tax credits will be approved which will allow the theater renovation project to move forward.

"We still have to finalize the tax credit package to make sure we can do full construction," he said. "Based on the pricing of the tax credits, we could be fully funded or we could come in at 10 percent deficit...getting a bridge loan is the difference in starting construction on everything"

The $6 million project has been in the works for almost 10 years. A total of $3 million in public and private funding has been secured.

About $1.2 million has already been spent, half of which has gone toward the design and the other half to things such as a new fire curtain, new roof, secure exterior doors and asbestos abatement.

"It has certainly been a longer haul than we expected and we also thought it would be $2 to $3 million, tops," Brawley said. "But to build this brand new would be a $12 to $15 million project."

The theater, located on Putnam Street in Marietta, opened in 1919 as the Hippodrome. In its heyday, it was a place where folks could enjoy vaudeville acts, Broadway plays, magical acts and silent films accompanied by the Hippodrome's five-piece orchestra.

Fact Box

About the Colony Theatre renovation


A roughly $6 million project

About $3 million in public and private funds has been secured

Almost $1.2 million has already been spent on the facility

It was Marietta's first air-conditioned building, and features a geothermal heating and cooling system that uses well water.

"We have fully tested that well for reuse...and we will use that water source as the initial source in some of the geothermal heating and cooling," Brawley said. "That allows for a much more efficient use of the system."

An Ohio Department of Development grant of $959,312 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's State Energy Program will be used to renovate the system.

When renovated, the heating and cooling system can be used again, but, more importantly, Brawley is hopeful that the stage will be used again, by locally and nationally known comedians, local dance companies and everything in between.

"What the Colony Theatre needs to be is similar to what the downtown merchants need to be-more experiential in their approach," he said. "In order to be relevant, we have to do things that can't be done at home."

Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce President Charlotte Keim said she has no doubt that if the theater draws in the right acts, it will bring in a crowd.

"With more musical entertainment in area restaurants and the crowds that pack into the Adelphia and Marietta Brewing Company...there's a lot of interest in that and it will certainly help revitalize that area of downtown and I hope we see more evening- type entertainment coming into that part of town," she said.



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