Wanted: Someone to renovate the Colony Theatre in Hillsboro.
The city of Hillsboro published a legal ad in Wednesday’s Times-Gazette requesting proposals to renovate and provide management ideas for the Colony, the historic movie house located on North High Street in uptown Hillsboro.
After decades of private ownership, followed by non-profit management and then ending up in the hands of the city, the theater is in need of repairs estimated in the $400,000 range. Barring someone stepping forward with the interest and money to undertake the task, the city is considering demolishing the large auditorium portion of the building to create more uptown parking.
At last month’s city council meeting, council member Justin Harsha said that while he was opposed to the city spending the money to renovate the Colony, he wanted to make sure every effort was made to determine whether anyone else wanted to try to save the building.
The legal ad published Wednesday said the city is “requesting proposals from qualified A/E firms for an affordable and creative solution to the currently vacant, unused Colony Theatre…”
The notice states, “This makes for a developer’s chance to be imaginative, creating an appealing and economically feasible solution to this vacant building in this section of the Uptown District.”
A pre-proposal conference and walk through will be held at the Colony at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13, according to the notice, which adds, “As part of this proposal, the City requests a plan for operations of the proposed use, responsibilities of parties involved, possible lease/purchase alternatives, renderings of proposed improvements.”
Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said Wednesday that the city is also reaching out to potential developers in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus to cast a wide net in an effort to make sure anyone who might be interested in the Colony is notified.
Mayor Drew Hastings led a public viewing and tour of the Colony last December, sharing diagrams and estimated repair costs provided by an architect. The cost to restore the theater was estimated at $460,000, he said.
The Colony was originally built and equipped in 1938 for $75,000.
After the December tour, Hastings said that the public viewing served a positive purpose because most people did not realize the extent of the deterioration.
“I think there was a fair amount of people who thought it needed a good dusting, some things nailed back in place and a few light bulbs replaced,” he said then. “They were probably very surprised that it was far more than that.”
While the mayor has said he would prefer that someone step up to save the building, the alternative could be to demolish the auditorium portion to create additional uptown parking, while preserving the façade of the Colony and utilizing the foyer for a business or visitors center.
Proposals to renovate the Colony are due by noon on Sept. 4, 2015 and should be sent to Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin, Colony Theatre Restoration, 130 N. High St., Hillsboro, Ohio, 45133.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.