Robinson Grand renovation design moving right along

These seats at the former Robinson Grand Theater could be filled again one day, under plans by the city to restore the theater as a regional cultural center.

These seats at the former Robinson Grand Theater could be filled again one day, under plans by the city to restore the theater as a regional cultural center.

Clarksburg — A local architect designing renovations to the former Robinson Grand Theater is about halfway through the process, Clarksburg City Manager Martin Howe said Wednesday. WYK Associates Inc. has gone over preliminary plans with the city administration and is preparing cost estimates to restore the Clarksburg landmark, Howe said.

“They’re meeting the goals to make it a multiuse, multifunctional facility,” Howe said of the architect’s plans to date. “It’s very exciting to see the planning becoming conceptual reality. “In the very near future, we can present the plan to City Council,” the city manager added. The cost estimates are critical because the city plans to seek financing through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Howe said.

The city is looking at applying for the maximum amount in loans at the local level, meaning the request wouldn’t have to go through the department’s federal offices in Washington, D.C., Howe said. The city recently purchased the Robinson Grand for $430,000.

Restoring the West Pike Street structure into a regional cultural center is one of the city’s goals for reviving downtown. “This is one of those projects that could really be the shot in the arm we really need for the city,” Mayor Cathy Goings said. The project seems to be moving along well since City Council voted to purchase the facility in April, Goings said. In designing the renovations, the architect and city officials have been meeting with local cultural leaders to get their input on potential uses for the facility, Goings said.

“I feel confident that we’re moving at a comfortable pace so that we can make sure we are not overlooking any areas,” she added. “I feel like we’re going at a pace that allows us to understand each and every phase of the project.” Goings said she wants to include a project update on the agenda for City Council’s strategic planning retreat. That session has been rescheduled for Sept. 7 at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke.

The city’s long-range plans for the theater are to create a foundation that could raise money through capital campaigns and be eligible for grants, Howe said. The foundation also would be responsible for retaining a management company to oversee the theater’s day-to-day operations, Howe said. The city’s role at that point hasn’t been decided, Howe added.

“It will be whatever is best for tax purposes and grants,” he said. “Obviously we want the theater to be a community and regional theater, and we want to rely on a cross-section of people within the community as members of the foundation.”

Staff writer Jim Davis can be reached at (304) 626-1446 or by email at jdavis@theet.com

Original article at http://goo.gl/nT2xea