The crumbling and long-vacant Quimby Village Theatre will apparently be renovated – with city help – into a performing arts facility.
Mayor Tom Henry was expected to announce today that the theater on Bluffton Road, which closed in 1994 but was one of the nation’s first and largest suburban movies houses when it opened as the Clyde in 1950, would be one of 10 businesses receiving fašade grants this year. Fifty-five projects have been completed since the grant program began in 2008, representing more than $2.6 million in private investment.
As The News-Sentinel first reported last June, Fort Wayne-based Even Keel Productions bought the property for $500 after it had been plagued by unpaid taxes, lawsuits and unrealized dreams. Even Keel owner Rick Kinney did not comment on his plans at the time, but according to information he has posted on the Internet he is “committed to renovating the Clyde Theatre and adjacent commercial spaces to fill the need for multi-functional performing arts facility . . . the Clyde will be a place where people of all ages can participate in music, art and cultural activities.”
The architectural form of MSKTD is managing the renovations, Kinney added.
Similar plans have been announced for the theater in the past, but never materialized.
Eight years ago local businessman Indalecio de Leon announced plans to convert the theater into a Hispanic-oriented nightclub and restaurant. DeLeon, who was buying the theater on contract from the Mallers-Spirou movie chain for $300,000, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove the seats, level the sloped floor and make other changes before work was stopped for lack of permits and never resumed.
Some of that work caused structural issues that have since been repaired, county Building Commissioner Dave Fuller told The News-Sentinel last year. Liddell Investments, which had purchased Mallers-Spirou’s remaining interest, sued de Leon in 2009 was awarded a $208,000 judgment that went unpaid, leaving Liddell to pay back property taxes and unable to turn the theater into an under-21 club as it had hoped to do.
A Liddell executive in 2011 estimated renovations could cost as much as $400,000.