Saturday, March 17, 2007

from one theater to another theater

Two weekends ago, a meeting was held at the Ohio One Building (nice art deco interior) by the Friends of Youngstown Theaters, a new grassroots non-profit group attmepting to preserve and promote the arts in the downtown. The main subject of that night's meeting was the possible renovation of the currently empty Liberty/Paramount Theater on Federal Street.

This building opened as the Liberty Theater in 1918, and was renamed the Paramount Theater in the late 1920s. You can see a nice picture here in all of its glory, from back in the day. The marquee is particularly beautiful.

In April 2006, the partnership of Paul Warshauer of Grand Venues in Illinois and Lou Frangos of USA Parking in Cleveland purchased the building for $79,900. An article from May 2006 which chronicles the purchase and future aspirations for the theater can be accessed here.

Earlier in the day before the recent meeting, the building was opened and a few pictures were taken of the interior, as shown below. Another site with photos of the building (from a few years ago) can be found here.

During the meeting Paul Warshauer (pictured below) presented his dream for the building, as well as preliminary estimates of renovation efforts and possible future sources of funding.

Let's focus on a few of the numbers:

The idea, as proposed at the meeting was to utilize the basement, the main floor for theater, and the upper floors for two small modern theaters (editor's note: hopefully with a bar serving alcohol in the back). The first photo of these easel has for all of these components the square footage, renovation cost per square foot, and total cost. So for the individual floors, this would come out to:

9,750 sq. ft. $573,250 - Basement
9,300 sq. ft. $2,785,000 - Street Level Theater
1,950 sq. ft. $585,000 - Mezzanine
4,250 sq. ft. $1,225,000 - Upper Cinemas A&B

Thus the total estimate for the project is a total of 26,950 sq ft of renovated space, at an average of $216 a sq ft, for a total of $5,829,500.

So this brings up a question . . .

really the 5,829,500 dollar question:

Who might pony up the cash for this project?

Well, as presented, here are some numbers:

20% - Federal Historic Tax Credits = $ 1,165,900
15% - Ohio Historic Tax Credits = $ 874,425
10% - The LLC of the owners = $ 582,950
5% - "Direct Grants" = $ 291,475

50% - Dontations from public, YSU, naming rights,corporate sponsors, etc. = $ 2,914,750

You can look at the picture for further information. I'm making no judgement on this one, just reporting the news.

- - -

Then ran across the street to the DeYor Performing Arts Center, housing Powers Auditorium, the Adler Arts Academy, the new Ford Recital Hall with its exquisite acoustics, and Overtures Restaurant.

The Powers Auditorium was about to meet the wrecking ball to become a parking lot back in 1968, but it was saved and became the home for the Youngstown Symphony (unlike way too many structures downtown that actually became parking lots - yea, more parking). It was renamed the Powers Auditorium from the Warner Theater, as the movie moguls the Warner Bros. grew up in Youngstown.

It serves as a great project of rehabilitation, and how new construction can bookend existing historical structures. I wonder what the leaders who endorsed its destruction would think of the complex now, and how this influences today's voices pushing for further demolition . . .

Regardless, here are some pictures of the interior, as I scampered up the steps to see the comedian Lewis Black.

Well, Mr Black graced us in Youngstown. He brought with him a copy of the Tribune-Chronicle for discussion, citing it as the local paper of record. The audience shouted him down that it was the paper of nearby Warren, and not Youngstown, and here is his reaction from the nosebleeds:

And as usual, Lewis ranted on a variety of subjects:

But that night was far from being over.

However, this entry is getting too long.

And so, a future story will be dedicated to what else happened that night on the streets of Youngstown . . .

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