The front portion of the Colony Theatre in uptown Hillsboro may soon be an empty space ready for development, and ideas for its future include rebuilding a decorative facade, or installing a “pocket park.”
Hillsboro City Council’s Property Maintenance and Restoration Committee voted 3-0 Wednesday to recommend council take action to demolish the front of the theater. Originally, plans called for the facade and front portion of the theater to be saved, even though the large rear portion was demolished.
But on Wednesday, committee members Ann Morris, Dick Donley and Justin Harsha agreed the front of the Colony should be torn down before it falls down on its own due to an unforeseen amount of structural deterioration.
“I don’t think we have a choice,” Donley said. “We have to tear it down.”
Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Mel McKenzie said Stantec, an engineering firm often consulted by the city, told officials the structural integrity of the building’s front would remain intact even if the rear end was torn down, which happened recently.
However, after the back of the building was demolished, a load-bearing beam was found to be in an advanced state of deterioration, leaving the front of the building unsafe.
“It’s pretty dangerous right now,”McKenzie said.
Workers have placed construction cones and caution tape on the sidewalk and street parking in front of the facade to protect the public in case of collapse.
At this point, McKenzie said, it’s substantially cheaper to tear the front of the building down than to try repairing it.
McKenzie said the current bid for demolishing the front of the building is $12,000, which he described as “actually pretty reasonable.”
Morris said there are several options for filling the empty space if the facade is demolished, including rebuilding a facade similar to the Colony’s current one, or a variation based on former facades; or installing a small city park with landscaping and benches.
A majority of individuals who were in attendance agreed the small park, or “pocket park,” would be a nice addition to the uptown area and fill the empty space.
The committee voted 3-0 to recommend council take action on demolishing the front of the building.
Also Wednesday, the committee discussed changes to the Liberty Park Veterans Memorial at the request of Stephanie Roland and Rick Tipton. Roland and Tipton both said they have noticed a large amount of “damage and disrespect” at the park, including people throwing trash away in the memorial and walking and playing in the area, which sits near a picnic pavilion.
Among other solutions, the committee discussed installing a white chain fence around the park and possibly planting some shrubs to prevent people from walking over it.
The committee took no action on the matter, although Harsha said it should be discussed during a future council meeting.
The committee also discussed creating booklets including information on the city’s Design and Review Board regulations and other important details for new businesses coming into Hillsboro.
Morris said she feels the Design and Review Board’s sign regulations aren’t enforced consistently, and said she has been approached by several people regarding uptown businesses that aren’t in compliance with the board’s standards.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.