Another step toward the likely demolition of the Colony Theatre will happen Monday with a 6:15 p.m. Finance Committee meeting prior to the 7 p.m. full meeting of Hillsboro City Council.
The Finance Committee is meeting to discuss the Colony demolition – and funding of the tear down – with an emergency resolution on the agenda for the full council to consider later in the evening. Council has been discussing the issue for nearly two years, with various public viewings scattered over the course of several months.
Most council members, as well as community members who have toured the facility, seem to share the belief that the expense to save the theater is too much considering its current condition. No one has stepped up with the backing to renovate the facility, or a plan to make it financially sustainable even if it was usable. Years of neglect have led to water damage, mold and an overall deteriorating infrastructure.
The Colony saw several decades of private ownership by the Chakeres chain, followed by non-profit management before ending up in the hands of the city. A year ago, estimates to repair the Colony were in the $460,000 range, but the structure has deteriorated noticeably more since then. The Colony was built in 1938 for $75,000.
Even members of the Highland County Historical Society have reluctantly acknowledged that the theater will likely be demolished, with several of them recently removing the murals that decorated the interior walls in order to preserve them for future display.
Last year, the city ran ads looking for someone who was interested in renovating and managing the theater. Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said at the time that the city was 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. But those efforts yielded no serious responses.
At last month’s council meeting, Wilkin said the cost to demolish the building would be about $96,000, including $51,000 for the back of the building and $45,000 for the front. He said additional costs would be seen to move an electric pole and lines that carry power for the uptown area.
More uptown parking will likely be provided where the back of the theater now stands, with city leaders discussing various ideas for the front part of the property along North High Street.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.