Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

March 3, 2013

Financial plan being studied for historic Goshen Theater

GOSHEN —  What do you think should become of Goshen’s historic downtown theater?

Over the past couple of years, many questions have been raised about what should be done with the more than 100-year-old theater. Should it be restored? Is it too expensive to maintain? Should it just be torn down and turned into a parking lot?

Goshen Downtown Inc. in mid-2011 received a $35,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund to conduct an architectural and feasibility study for the historic building to try and determine the best answers to those and many other questions related to the theater’s future.

The year-long study, unveiled this past December by members of the Goshen Theater Task Force, was initially brought on by the fact that the church organization that currently owns the structure is looking to transition ownership.

Myron Bontrager, pastor of the Downtown@808 church, which meets in the theater, has said for the past few years that he would like to see an ownership transition happen soon, and preferably into the hands of a local non-profit that would be able to support and maintain the historic site for the enjoyment of future generations.

“I think there is going to be a change of hands at some point,” Bontrager said. “That’s always what we’ve been working toward. Over the last couple of years, with the feasibility study, and even before that, as a church we’ve always wanted the theater to be used as a gathering place for the community. And as time went on, we really began to look at and pursue the option of releasing the theater to another organization that could accomplish that goal more easily and tap into some of the available funds out there for these types of venues.”

Through the study, several potential business plans and possible uses for the theater were evaluated with the end goal of helping to nail down exactly what the theater will be used for in the future. Some of the primary goals identified included restoring the exterior of the building as well as allowing for the expansions of public areas and spaces needed backstage for performers.

In addition to the primary goals, several secondary goals were also identified which could help bring the theater up to its full potential. Such goals included expanding the lobby into the neighboring storefronts, working with the attached Menno Travel building to appropriate some of the rear of that building to create backstage space, redoing the front stonework and installing an elevator.

All together, total cost for the proposed theater renovations was determined by the study to be around $7.6 million, with an operating budget post-renovation projected at approximately $400,000 per year.

Even with proposed revenues and contributions helping to meet that cost, the study noted that any group operating the theater would most likely need some sort of assistance to make ends meet, whether that be through a grant program or additional financial support.

“The way this would probably work is a not-for-profit of some sort would eventually be formed to take ownership of the whole movement of what happens with the theater,” Bontrager said. “How and when that will happen is a little bit up in the air right now. But I really think anybody’s dream is still up for grabs right now. I think there are a lot of things that could happen with it.”

According to Gina Leichty, co-chair of the Goshen Theater Task Force, task force members are currently working hard to find a viable long-term solution for the continued operation of the Goshen Theater.

“The theater is at a transition point right now,” Leichty said. “We completed our feasibility study, so we know now what it would take to renovate the theater, and we have a business plan to operate that once the renovation takes place. So the next step is to find out the financial feasibility.”

Along those lines, Leichty said the group is currently conducting research to see what resources might be available in the community and also at the state and federal level to get the funding needed to complete the ambitious project. And, as Bontrager mentioned, the task force is working under a bit of a ticking clock, so time is of the essence.

“There are some real threats to the theater right now,” Leichty said. “The current owners are ready to end their operation of the theater, so we have some immediate needs that we need to address just to keep it operational. So we may be looking for some short-term funding just to keep the heat on and the doors open.”

In the meantime, Leichty said the owners will continue to manage the building and host events, though likely in a much reduced capacity moving forward.

“They will still be managing the building, and there will still continue to be some events there and things like that,” Leichty said. “But I do anticipate that there will be significantly fewer events at the theater until we can find an alternate solution.”

That said, Leichty was quick to note her continued optimism regarding the future prospects of the historic downtown structure.

“I think we have good reason to be optimistic,” Leichty said. “People have been very supportive of the theater for a long period of time, and the research we’ve done has shown that there is a need for a theater like that. So I think there certainly is a market for the theater. It has been the cultural centerpiece in Goshen’s downtown since 1907, and we want to make sure it stays that way for another hundred years or more.”

While the task force is currently focused primarily on getting its financial feasibility study completed, Leichty said it is also her hope in the coming months to continue to solicit community input on the future of the theater, though exactly how that will shake out has yet to be determined.

“I don’t know exactly what format that will take at this point,” Leichty said. “Right now we’re just focusing on getting our fundraising feasibility study done so we’ll know where the funding is coming from. As we dig deeper, we’ll have a much clearer idea of what resources are available moving forward.”

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Press Release 04-23-2014 J.jpg SLIDESHOW: Police need help ID'ing suspects The Goshen Police Department is asking for the public's assistance in identifying suspects wanted for questioning in relation to a number of thefts from retail stores throughout Indiana. The four individuals have stolen over $25,000 worth of merchandise, according to law enforcement. The men are believed to be African-American and have been seen fleeing in a white Dodge Ram or another white pickup truck with a white cap which may have Florida license plates. Anyone with information is asked to call the Goshen Police Department at 574-533-8661 or Michiana CrimeStoppers at 800-342-STOP.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Michigan Prisoner Escape Michigan murderer arraigned in prison escape that led to manhunt in Elkhart, LaGrange counties

    IONIA, Mich. — A convicted murderer who broke out of a western Michigan prison in February has been arraigned on escape, carjacking and kidnapping charges.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEMA OKs aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by storm

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster aid for 19 Indiana counties

    April 22, 2014

  • NWS GN140421 jobless rate Elkhart County jobless rate drops to 5.8 percent

    Elkhart County’s jobless rate dropped below 6 percent last month, according to figures released today by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
    The March unemployment rate for the county was estimated at 5.8 percent, compared to the February estimate of 6.2 percent and the March 2013 figure of 8.3 percent.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police & Rescue News Bristol motorcyclist dies from crash injuries

    Dale Greensides, 32, Bristol, the driver of a motorcycle involved in a crash with an automobile Sunday north of Middlebury, died today at 11:25 a.m.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police & Rescue News No injuries in Concord Township fire

    Firefighters were called to a basement fire in a Concord Township home shortly after midnight today.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police & Rescue News Bristol bank robbery suspect arrested

    A South Bend man has been arrested in connection with a bank robbery last year in Bristol.
    Zamale E. Davis, 19, 1805 Chapin St., was arrested at 7:10 a.m. Friday in South Bend by officers with the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police & Rescue News Six injured in crash northwest of Wakarusa

    A two-vehicle crash injured six people north of Wakarusa Tuesday.
    The mishap occurred around 7:20 a.m. at the intersection of C.R.s 1 and 26.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140416 Leesburg crash Driver critically injured in Kosciusko County crash

    A one-vehicle crash injured two men — one critically — south of Leesburg Tuesday.
    The mishap occurred on C.R. 150 West just south of C.R. 400 North around 5 p.m.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man killed in South Bend while possibly on bike

    Police in South Bend say a man was fatally shot in the head

    April 16, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results