Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

October 12, 2013

Future of downtown's Goshen Theater should become clearer in coming months

GOSHEN — GOSHEN — If all goes well, the historic Goshen Theater could be under new ownership by the end of this year. Exactly what will happen with the theater after that change occurs, however, is still very much in flux.

Gina Leichty, board president of Goshen Theater Inc., went before the Goshen Redevelopment Commission Tuesday to provide an in-depth project update and timeline for a planned revitalization of the more than 100-year-old theater. And if what she had to say is any indication, there could be some big things in store for Goshen’s historic downtown gem.

The origin of the proposed plan begins back in mid-2011, when Downtown Goshen Inc. received a $35,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund to conduct an architectural and feasibility study to determine the feasibility of restoring the aging theater.

The result of that study was a recommendation for more than $7 million in upgrades to the building that would bolster the theater’s usefulness and allow it the versatility to book a wide range of activities and performances more than 200 days/nights per year.

Where to go from here

According to Leichty, the year-long study was initially brought on by the fact that the church organization that currently owns the structure, Downtown@808, is looking to sell the building, preferably to a local non-profit entity that would be able to support and maintain the historic site for the enjoyment of future generations.

“They looked at the mechanical and architectural needs of the building, they did a market study, and they also did a business plan for a revitalized theater,” Leichty said of the study. “All three of those indicators came back positive, and they encouraged us to move forward. So what I’m here to talk about today is where we’re planning to go with this project from here.”

One of the first things Leichty and her group needed to do to prepare for the desired take-over of the theater was to officially formalize their organization.

“Until earlier this year, the Goshen Theater Task Force had been the main entity that was working on the revitalization project, and they were a subcommittee at Downtown Goshen Inc.,” Leichty said. “But that task force determined to actually formally become an entity (Goshen Theater Inc.) that will hopefully ultimately own and operate the building. So that was one of the first things that we did. We applied to become an entity in April of 2013. We also applied for our 501c3 (not-for-profit) status.”

With regard to the not-for-profit status, Leichty said she is still waiting for official notification from the IRS, though with the recent federal government shutdown still in play, she anticipates the group could be in for a bit of a wait before word of possible approval comes their way.

“With the government shutdown, it may be a little longer before we hear anything,” Leichty said. “Usually that takes six to nine months, but we’ll see how things go over the next few weeks.”

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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