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Published: 12/21/2012

Renovation would give historic Ohio Theatre site many uses

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Plans to transform the vacant Ohio Theatre in North Toledo into a multipurpose community events and facility center has won approval for $1,368,500 in state tax credits.

The Ohio Development Services Agency awarded historic preservation tax credits for renovations to the historic theater, one of 45 historic building applications approved for the program Thursday.

The tax credits will be used for improvements to the 475-seat theater on Lagrange Street that began earlier this month, said Terry Glazer, director of the United North community development agency, which purchased the building in 2009.

Mr. Glazer said the organization, so far, has collected nearly 60 percent of the targeted $5 million goal for the project’s first phase through fund-raisers, donations, and state and federal tax credits.

The renovations include a new roof, heating and air conditioning improvements, bathrooms, electrical upgrades, reconfiguring the stage area, and removing some theater seats.

United North hopes to reopen April 1 as a multipurpose facility, offering more uses than it had in the past as a movie theater. It plans to host youth programs, the Toledo Symphony, and ballet groups. The Toledo School for the Arts has booked an event in the facilty for May.

“The Toledo Arts Commission is helping us book some acts and arranging performances,”" Mr. Glazer said. “This will not just be a theater. It is also a community center. With the cut back in arts in public education, we will be able to provide art education for youth in the neighborhood.”

Mr. Glazer said the Toledo Community Foundation awarded a grant to the community development group to hire a part-time manager. United North earlier received a $100,000 cultural grant from the state to buy furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the theater.

The theater, which opened to movie-goers in 1921, has won approval for placement on the list of National Register of Historic Places. It closed in 2009, when ownership passed from the nonprofit Ohio Theater, Inc., which had operated it since 2004.

A future phase calls for reinforcing and refurbishing the facade for a new marquee as well as replacing seats and repairing the interior walls, Mr. Glazer said.

In accepting the building for the tax credit program, state officials said they envision the community events center and theater as a catalyst for reviving businesses in the Polish International Village area.

Mr. Glazer said he hopes the renovated building will bring visitors attending events into the neighborhood, offering encouragement to stores and businesses to open.

“That in turn will create more goods and services and jobs for people,” he said.



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