Cleveland, OH — Restoring the 86-year-old Variety Theater on Cleveland’s West Side: Whatever happened to …?

clevelandRestoring the 86-year-old Variety Theater on Cleveland’s West Side: Whatever happened to …?
By Michael O’Malley, The Plain Dealer | Published by
July 1, 2013

Whatever happened to plans to renovated the 86-year-old Variety Theater on Cleveland’s West Side?

Plans appear to be back on track.

A nonprofit group, Friends of the Historic Variety Theater, has taken ownership of the property and, along with Westown Community Development Corp., are working with consultants to put together a financial plan.

“It’s happening,” said Chad Dasher, executive director of Westown. “We’re starting to see things go.”

More than five years ago, Westown, a nonprofit neighborhood group, set out to renovate the boarded-up theater on Lorain Avenue near West 118th Street.

But then the economy tanked, putting a crimp in financial lending and the availability of public dollars so the project got put on hold.

Renovating the property, which includes 13 second-story apartments and six street-level retail shops, is expected to cost roughly $8 million. Westown, before the economy went sour, had raised about $1 million, including more than $200,000 in federal dollars.

Dasher said the next step in the restoration is to upgrade electrical systems in the complex. He said the work is expected to start this summer. “Electrical upgrade is a key piece for this project,” he said.

The Variety, built in 1927 as a 1,900-seat vaudeville house, showed its last movies in the early 1980s, before it became a venue for heavy-metal rock bands.

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