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With construction contract in hand, fundraising for Avalon Theatre continues

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THE BACKSTORY ON THE AVALON THEATRE

The City of Grand Junction, the DDA, and the Avalon Theatre Foundation Board have been working together on upgrading the Avalon Theatre into “a fully functioning performing art center” since 2008, a June 19 city council agenda said.

At the June 5 regular council meeting, a split council voted for more time to decide the immediate fate of the city-owned performing arts center sorely in need of facility upgrades to make it code compliant (ADA and safety). Subsequent special meetings between council and other key players discussed necessary fundraising efforts, costs and other needs associated with a proposed construction plan to revitalize the 90-year-old structure on historic Main Street.

At the June 19 meeting, City Council favored option B (a $7.6 million upgrade project) because it could be easily upgraded into the full $8.2 million core project if funds quickly became available through private fundraising efforts.

Phase 1’s core construction project was originally bid out at $8.6 million by FCI, then downsized to $8.2 million with scaled back changes, like the types of materials used in construction. Other versions of the project included the $7.6 million project adopted (construction of an addition, with the shell to be built out as more funds come in), and a $7.1 million project that would bring the facility fully up to code with little frills.

The Phase 1 plan includes new seats, expanded seating (from 967 to 1,100), ADA-accessibility upgrades, new lighting and sound, upgraded acoustics in the main theater, new digital technology for movie screenings, a better heating and cooling system, and more.

In option B, a community room where movies can be shown will be part of the shell, and it will come available for use as the space is built out.

Grand Junction City Council’s decision to enter into an FCI construction contract on the 90-year-old Avalon Theatre two weeks ago means big things for the Avalon Cornerstone Project’s private fundraising effort.

“The $1,000 for 1000 is what is coming in right now,” said Avalon Cornerstone Project Director Robin Brown in an email. “Lots of $1,000 checks.”

Brown also said “official” mailings for the Avalon Theatre Foundation’s continued fundraising campaign went out to 500 local Realtors last week.



“In about six weeks, we’ll get moving on our ‘Take Your Seat’ campaign (buy a seat for $2,500),” Brown added. “We are giving the old theater seats out to local artists to decorate however they want and then we’ll put those seats all over the community to raise awareness for the campaign. We do have a call out to artists right now.”

According to Brown, “I (also) attended the Western Colorado Rural Philanthropy Days conference (two weeks ago) and made some great contacts with Boettcher, El Pomar, Gates, Coors and DOLA. We were well-received by all and will follow up with grant requests to those that we haven’t already submitted to. There weren’t many projects like ours at the conference, which made the Cornerstone Project really stand out.”



Time is of the essence for Avalon Theatre fundraising efforts as Grand Junction’s councilors resolved to move forward on their share of a $7.6 million revamp effort to make the Avalon Theatre code-compliant (ADA and safety). Currently, both the city and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) have dedicated $3 million to Phase 1 of the Avalon revamp, with another $1 million and change from private donors. Brown said at recent meetings with councilors and other key players that a construction contract was necessary to instill confidence in future donors that the project would actually take place.

An upgraded performing arts center is meant to draw in more high-caliber performers and larger audiences. Construction will likely start at the end of July.

For more information about the Avalon Cornerstone Project or to donate, visit http://www.avalontheatrefoundation.org.


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