Goshen Theater could see significant renovations in future

Nonprofit hopes to raise up to $9.5 million to rehab downtown landmark.

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 11, 2013 at 2:26 p.m.

GOSHEN — The Goshen Theater may be closed now, save for a few previously scheduled events, but significant renovations could be in the building’s future thanks to a newly formed not-for-profit organization.

Goshen Theater Inc. is waiting to have its nonprofit application accepted and will be working to secure the funds to purchase the building from its owners, Downtown at 808.

While being accepted as a nonprofit and acquiring the building are certainly obstacles, leadership within the organization is keeping at least one eye on the future.

A feasibility study was completed last summer looking at what it would take to renovate the building and what business model to pursue upon reopening.

“They also did a market study to make sure that there is a market for that size theater in the area,” GTI President Gina Leichty noted.

The study provided a rundown of the existing condition of the building along with recommendations of how to renovate and rehabilitate the Goshen Theater to fit the specified desires of the task force, which eventually formed into GTI.

Currently, Goshen Theater Inc. is conducting an initial fund drive that will serve to purchase the theater and to operate for two years.

To accomplish that objective, Leichty said the goal is to raise about $300,000. “That’s just to do some very basic, you know, keep the doors open,” she said.

Leichty said the estimation they received was around $9.5 million to do the full renovation, which GTI would like to cover solely through private funds and grants after the Goshen Theater is actually purchased.

She said that while completing the renovations all at once is not out of the question, the more likely scenario would be a phased rehabilitation over a number of years.

The phased renovations would likely allow the theater to remain open to events, at least while most of the work was being performed.

The feasibility study came back with a long list of recommendations for significant interior and exterior renovations and rehabilitation, not only to enhance the aesthetics and architecture of the theater, but to improve the accessibility, amenities and technical aspects of the building as well.

“We’ll need to add some functional pieces,” Leichty explained, including additional restroom space and a remodel of the entrance and foyer area to include a larger area for concessions sales.

Plans would also include enhancing amenities for performers, including the construction of dressing rooms and a green room, as well as an office for a production manager.

The theater will also need to be modified to meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, and an elevator will be installed for enhanced access throughout the building.

Beyond those upgrades, Leichty said the electrical, heating and cooling systems will need to be upgraded, along with other general upgrades and maintenance.

She added that because the list of renovations was quite long, GTI may not be able to realistically complete every recommendation, at least not right away. “It is contingent, of course, on our ability to raise the necessary funds,” Leichty noted.

She stated the group expects to receive a response from the IRS regarding their not-for-profit application within the next several weeks. Once the IRS’ response is in, work will begin in earnest to move the Goshen Theater toward reopening.

For more information on the Goshen Theater and to review the feasibility study and its related elements, visit www.cityonthego.org.

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