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Theatre expansion plans on target

January 10, 2002

Theatre expansion plans on target



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Plans to build a $5 million cultural arts center and expand the Capitol Theatre remain on track, with construction to begin in March.

Crews have demolished seven buildings in downtown Chambersburg to make way for the center since work began in October.

The final building came down two weeks ago, said Paul Cullinane, president of Downtown Chambersburg Inc., which is spearheading the project for the Main Street theater.

"This week they are clearing out the debris and then will be back-filling the hole in the ground," he said.

So far, work has included razing three storefronts between the theater and the Main Street Deli and four smaller structures along West Washington Street that backed up against the proposed center.

If plans stay on schedule, Cullinane hopes to solicit bids in the next few weeks.

He expects the selection of a construction company will be made in February so building can begin in mid- to late March.

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"That is the plan. Everything is going fine," he said.

The theater has remained open during the demolition of adjacent buildings and will not close during construction.

"The Capitol Theatre has a show coming up on the 12th (Saturday), so we have a little bit of dust cleanup in there as the result of taking part of a side wall down," he said.

The Capitol Theatre Center will include a new lobby and concession stand for the 84-year-old theater, new parking, bathrooms and a gift shop. Eventually a 160-seat, second-floor performance area for community theater and recitals will be added.

While it will only be two stories high, a three-story facade will allow the architecture of the new center to be consistent with the existing buildings on Main Street.

The theater has been in continuous use since it opened in 1927. It was in danger of shutting down when the downtown group bought it in 1996 and attempted to reinvigorate both the theater and the downtown.

The Capitol Theatre Foundation will develop funding for an endowment that will cover the theater's operating costs.

The project is funded in part by a $2.5 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.

However, planners still need to raise about $2 million to complete the project.

Eventually, the cultural arts center will house offices of the theater management, Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts, Caledonia Theatre Company, Chambersburg Community Theatre and Chambersburg Ballet Theatre School.

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