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Published: Wednesday, 7/27/2005

Bowling Green: Cla-Zel revival as arts center studied


For nearly 80 years, the Cla-Zel Theater attracted people to downtown Bowling Green for first-run movies and some not-so first-run flicks like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

While the theater closed its doors in May because it was losing money, the non-profit board that has operated the North Main Street fixture is hoping to revive the Cla-Zel as a performing arts theater.

Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green is working on a study that will show what work needs to be done to the old building to make that possible and, more importantly, what it would cost.

"Before we can do anything - whether we want to do any work inside or undertake a capital campaign - we have to have a figure in mind," said Paul Yon, who volunteers as development director for Cla-Zel Theater Inc.

He would not venture to put an estimate on that figure.

"The Maumee Theatre was $3.1 million when it was all done," he said referring to the city of Maumee's recent renovation of the Maumee Indoor Theatre.

A group of local investors bought the Cla-Zel in 2000, and spent around $250,000 cleaning it up and making repairs, but much needs to be done.

"We want all of the utilities - heating, plumbing, electrical, and so forth - to be updated and renovated," Mr. Yon said. "We want to be in compliance with [the Americans with Disabilities Act]. The restrooms are on the second floor. They need to be on first. We want to do some other expansion and things that we think would enhance a performing arts theater."

Mr. Yon has been working with representatives of the Black Swamp Players, Horizon Youth Theatre, and the theater department at Bowling Green High School to create a plan for how the Cla-Zel could be used for the performing arts.

Poggemeyer is expected to complete the study in September.

Contact Jennifer Feehan

at jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972

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