Avalon renovation project moves forward

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo (KKCO)-- The historic Avalon Theater in downtown Grand Junction was built in the 1920s and is in need of some major remodeling to make it more attractive to performers and artists.

The project will cost up to $16 million, but supporters are confident it will recoup those expenses and make the Grand Valley an even better place to live.

"It's time for some renovations," said Robin Brown, Development Director of the Avalon Theater Foundation.

The Avalon Theater needs quite a few renovations to bring it up to code, including a new roof, HVAC system and ADA accessibility.

"The theater does not have dressing rooms. It doesn't have a green room; it absolutely has no extra space, except for the theater itself and a very small lobby. It's pretty cramped in there, and if you go in there, it's not very inspiring to see," added Brown.

Brown said the renovations will bring the total number of seats to 1,000, the magic number to attract bigger acts.

"The new renovation project is to bump the back of the theater across the alleyway, and some of the Broadway acts that we really want, we can get larger acts. We can get the Broadway acts that we really want," said Brown.

The improved theater will also be home to the Grand Junction Symphony. Supporters believe the project will pay for itself.

"The city gave three million, the Downtown Development Authority gave three million, and the Avalon Theater is going to raise the rest from private funds, and from grants and things like like to meet that goal," said Brown.

Right now things are in the "quiet," or planning phase. Organizers spent two years making sure the project had the support it needed to make the goal a reality.

"We has a huge amount of interest from anyone who has ever been to the Avalon, to improve those seats, to improve the sight lines, the acoustical components in the building," said Debbie Kovalik, Department Director with the City of Grand Junction, Economic, Convention and Visitor Services.

But if organizers don't get the public's support as quickly as they had hoped, they'll still make the most with what they have.

"The project is designed in stages, so that we can realistically build to the funding level that we get," added Kovalik.

Renovations will also include a rooftop terrace with seating for about 250 people, and will host private events.

Avalon officials say if they can raise the full amount, they estimate the theater will bring in an additional $1 million in revenue annually. Organizers successfully asked the Grand Junction City Council for $130,000 Wednesday night. Those funds will go towards the design and development stage of the project.

Organizers hope to break ground on the new and improved theater in April 2013. They also plan to launch a campaign to educate the public on why the renovation will benefit the Grand Valley.

For more information on the Avalon Theater renovation project, visit www.avalontheaterfoundation.org.

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