There was good news for the ongoing effort to restore the historic Crest Theater this week. Great Bend City Administrator Kendal Francis said the project will receive a $90,000 Heritage Trust Fund Grant through the Kansas Historical Society.
The timing is perfect, he said. The city has contracted with Glassman Corporation of Hays for $572,700 to handle the HVAC improvements the city-owned building.
Francis said the city has $350,000 set aside for theater renovations, leaving a balance of $222,700. The Great Bend Community Theater Board, which has an agreement to operate the facility for the city, has indicated it is willing to make up the difference and has made steps in that direction and has approved a memorandum of understanding with the city solidifying this arrangement.
As for the grant, Francis said it requires a 20 percent match and the city already has the funds to take care of this.
The Heritage Trust Fund is a state program providing matching funds to preserve properties listed in the national or state register of historic places. It reimburses expenses for projects including professional fees and construction costs up to $90,000.
Properties owned by the state or federal governments are not eligible, but those owned by local governments, private individuals, non-profit, and for-profit entities qualify.
More good news
In addition, one anonymous donor has stepped forward with a $50,000 gift, said Jerry Renk of the Crest board. And there is the possibility of another 50 grand in match money available from the same benefactor as an incentive for more donations.
So, between the grant and the first $50,000, the theater has $140,000. If the board can raise the $50,000 to meet the match, their goal would be met, Renk said.
“It’s an icon of the community,” Renk said of the venue. “The town square needs that marquee down there.”
In addition to plays, “we truly have turned it into a community center, it is an asset, “ Renk said. Events such as fundraisers and wedding receptions have taken place there.
So far, by piecing together donations and grants, the theater board has replaced the seats, lighting and carpeting, and remodeled the bathrooms. In addition, there is new equipment to aid the hearing impaired, a new screen and a repainted stage.
They are also eying electronic ticketing.
What’s in store
The city has also contracted with ACM Removal Kansas LLC. for $16,820 for asbestos removal. Prior to construction of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements, asbestos must be removed in areas affected by the project.
As for the timeline for the project, that remains undetermined, Francis said.
It is Renk’s hope all the work is wrapped up by late summer or early fall in time for theater production and cold weather seasons.
Commonwealth Theaters deeded the Crest to the city, but it sits on leased ground. The lease, which expires in 2046, calls for a $200-per-year city payment.