Augusta, Parkhurst, Set To Move Forward On Colonial Theater Renovation In Downtown Augusta
A packed house met at City Hall in Augusta last night (October 13, 2016) to discuss renovations on the old Colonial Theater in downtown Augusta. City councilors expressed informal support for the City Manager of Augusta's proposal to use $300,000 in city funds left over from the Lithgow Library to provide a “challenge grant” to help spur fundraising to renovate and reopen the privately owned Colonial Theater.
According to centralmaine.com, plans include adding a 13,000-square-foot, multi-story building next to it to help provide better access and more space for the theater, an ambitious timeline of opening it in 29 months, and a schedule of as many as 300 shows a year including concerts, live theater and children’s theater that could bring culture, people and revenue to the city’s downtown.
Richard Parkhurst, leader of a nonprofit group working to raise funds and restore the theater, said he was comfortable saying he has at least $1 million sitting on the fence right now from private donors. They’re ready to commit, but they’re wondering if the city is behind it, Parkhurst said. Besides the renovation of the theater, he has plans for a multistory annex next door on land donated by Augusta businessman Tom Johnson. It will house rehearsal rooms, costume areas, art and prop building space, and many other theater related activities. It will also make the building compliant with federal ADA codes.
The proposal to provide $300,000 in city money, if private fundraising for the project is successful, is expected to go to councilors for a vote next Thursday.
Parkhurst says he isn't waiting to find out about fundraising and work has already begun on the building. Asbestos will be removed from upper levels of the building this month and he hopes a new roof will be installed by the middle of November.
The general consensus seems to be it will be a big win for Augusta. Parking still needs to be addressed, but if successful, this might be the spark that energizes Downtown Augusta and should be beneficial for businesses and citizens of the Capital City.