Public Hearing Set Tuesday on Robinson Grand Project

By Jim Davis, Staff Writer, Exponent Telegram, November 23, 2015

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Staff photo by Jim Davis, The Exponent Telegram

 

CLARKSBURG — Clarksburg officials will have a public hearing Tuesday on the planned restoration of the Robinson Grand Theater.  The 5:30 p.m. public hearing will give citizens an opportunity to learn more about the city’s plans to put the downtown landmark back into use.  “This will afford another opportunity in which an overview of the project will be provided,” City Manager Martin Howe said. “We’ve had multiple conversations in the past, most recently at a work session.“There will be future discussions as the project progresses,” Howe added.  The hearing — which will be on the second floor of the Clarksburg Municipal Building — is part of the city’s loan-application process with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Clarksburg Municipal Building Commission is looking at borrowing between $6 million and $7 million from the Department of Agriculture, Howe said.  The building commission sells bonds to finance city projects because Clarksburg City Council can’t assume long-term debt.  But the building commission doesn’t have any money, meaning the city is required to back all loans.  WYK Associates is the architect on the project.  James Swiger, president of WYK Associates, will give an overview of the restoration, complete with renderings, Howe said.  “He’ll show a portion of a 3-D video, which will demonstrate what the theater will look like upon completion,” Howe said.  The city paid $430,000 for the Robinson Grand last year.  Restoring the West Pike Street structure as a regional cultural center is one of the city’s goals for reviving downtown.  Planned improvements include a basement for dressing rooms, a stage with an orchestra pit, a ballroom and bar area, concession stands, a catering kitchen and handicapped-accessible restrooms, Swiger has said.  The project is tentatively set to go out to bid in February, city council recently learned.  Renovations should take 12 to 15 months, and plans call for having a grand opening Dec. 24, 2017, Swiger has said. The theater reopened Christmas Eve following a 1939 fire that gutted the structure.

Besides hiring WYK Associates as architect, the city has also procured the services of consultants to assist with a capital campaign and help secure tax credits.  Mayor Cathy Goings said the administration and city council have been working diligently to move the project forward.“This process on Tuesday is the next step that shows our commitment to this project,” Goings said.  The Robinson Grand opened Feb. 5, 1913, according to Dorothy Davis’ “History of Harrison County.”  An architectural landmark, the Robinson Grand “is Neo-Gothic in style, with elements of Classicism, and combines rich brick work with intricate and elaborate terra cotta detailing,” according to a description in a West Virginia Division of Culture and History document.  The theater was known as the Rose Garden before it closed several years ago.

 

 

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