After years of work to restore Centralia’s art deco downtown landmark, the Fox Theatre is on track to be open for business in 2020.
The “Vision 2020” event Wednesday night at the King Street Cove featured a detailed presentation that updated the public and investors on current business and restoration plans.
The restoration of the 1930s building has been in the works for years.
Scott White, the president of the restoration project, spoke about the completion of the theater.
“We said ‘Vision 2020’ a year ago and we’re sticking with it,” White said. “It may be December 31st but, darn it, we’re going to open this thing in 2020 … We want to make it a place where everyone wants to come and that means accessibility.”
Some of the plans to update the theater space include: extending the lobby, adding restrooms throughout the building, installing an elevator, creating a greenroom and dressing rooms in the basement, a stage extension, theatrical lighting and state-of-the-art sound and film equipment.
“We want to make sure that when we reopen that we did it right,” said White. “We’re bringing in the pros.”
The Fox Theatre team has been working closely with two corporations, AMS, a financial planning firm that specializes in theatres, and DLR, an architecture firm. A representative from each company spoke about the work they’ve been doing this past year.
AMS shared with the audience what they found concerning the ongoing financial impacts to the community, the core purpose of the facility, how to best serve that purpose, the target markets, and how to support community goals.
The theatre was referred to as an “Evergreen Center,” meaning it will never have a dark season and events are going on every month of the year. It is the hope that the Fox Theatre becomes an economic driver and will attract people, not only within the community, but from nearby cities as well.
“The Fox Organization will drive most of the content,” said AMS consultant, Bill Blake. Renting out the space is the second priority. “We want to fill up the calendar with the kinds of events that people want to see that will put ‘feets on streets’ downtown,” he said.
The data collected by AMS showed that music, in all forms, will be the driving force of the theater. Artist fees are much less than what it would cost to get a full-scale theater production to stop in Centralia. There will also be films nights, comedy shows, lectures and possibly some dance.
Jaime Kaiser, the Construction Project Manager, told the crowd how much work has already been done on the theater through photos. The ceiling and roof have been redone, the large furnace has been removed, the old projection booth has been torn out, and all of the concerte was chipped away and removed.
Mattew Jennings with DLR showed and explained the schematics of the building. There will be 737 seats total in the theatre, with 398 seats in the balcony and 339 seats down below. There will be concessions on both floors.
“It’s a really smart transformation. All of the choices that we have made are in reference to what the building is now, using what we can, where it is, and also responding to the plans that Bill (AMS) and his team came up with,” Jennings said.
The Fox Organization is looking for more support from the community and would love to know what kinds of entertainment the community would like to see at the Fox Theatre in 2020. Follow the progress of the restoration on its Facebook page, Historic Centralia Fox Theatre and donate at http://centraliafoxtheatre.com/.