Caitlin Row
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April 18, 2013
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Major cash needed to go forward with Avalon renovations

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - When March bids on the large-scale Avalon Theatre remodel came in $1 million more than expected, proponents didn't lose heart. Rather, they returned to the drawing board, seeking new ways to boost fundraising efforts and rethink construction plans.

"Three (fundraising) campaigns are happening simultaneously," Avalon Cornerstone Project development director Robin Brown said:

• 1,000 for $1000 - "We'd end up with $1 million if 1,000 people gave $1,000," she said.

• Seat sales - Cost is $2,500 for naming rights of seats, which will be honored with a lobby plaque.

• Naming rights for other areas of the revamped theater. The cost would be anywhere from $10,000 to $3 million.

Educational tours of the Avalon Theatre are also scheduled for two Sundays, April 21 and 28 from 2-5 p.m., to showcase the necessity of the remodel.

"We want to invite everyone to learn the facts of the project," Brown said, and tours will showcase behind-the-scenes areas in need.

With those measures, the Avalon Cornerstone Project hopes to raise another $1.5 million in cash. Until now, donations for an Avalon upgrade have reached $7 million total. The City of Grand Junction gave $3.1 million, and the Downtown Development Authority also committed $3 million. All future donations must come from the private sector.

"There is an urgency," Brown added. "If the theater does not get renovated, the city will be forced to close it."

Why? While the Avalon Theatre may operate in its current state now, Brown said once necessary upgrades of any capacity commence (like a new roof or air-conditioning), the city must make the rest of the structure ADA-compliant.

"The minute we renovate it, it must come to code," she explained.

On top of renewed fundraising efforts, the Avalon Cornerstone Project is also re-evaluating the phases of its remodel. Currently, the extensive revamps are split into two phases - a $7 million "core" project, followed by a "full build-out," which would cost another $5-7 million.

Phase 1, which encompasses the "core" upgrades went out to bid March 4. That includes new seats, expanded seating (from 967 to 1,100), ADA-accessibility upgrades, a multipurpose room with retractable seating, new lighting and sound, upgraded acoustics in the main theater, new digital technology for movie screenings, and a better heating and cooling system. The vacant lot to the east of the theater would house an addition, with a new entrance, a lobby, expanded concessions, new bathrooms on both the first floor and upper mezzanine, and a public elevator to every level.

Phase 2 of the project would include the completion of the Avalon's rooftop terrace and an addition across the alley to double the stage size.

Now, Brown said the Avalon Cornerstone Project is considering a smaller upgrade for Phase 1, with options for a full buildout in the future.

"It takes a lot of coordination and planning to sequence the steps properly," said John Halvorson, chairman of the Avalon Foundation Board. "I expect that will be how we need to do it."

For instance, the proposed addition could be built as a shell to be filled out as funds become available. An addition is required of the project as an elevator is needed to make the theater ADA-compliant.

"The goal is still to get to full buildout as we've presented to the public," Brown noted.

For more information, visit www.avalontheatrefoundation.org.


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The Post Independent Updated Apr 22, 2013 11:12AM Published Apr 18, 2013 12:51PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.