Group seeks to preserve old Colonial Theater
By Keith Edwards firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — A City Council tour Thursday of the old Colonial Theater stirred fond memories and hopes for the arts in the future at the historic, long-vacant Water Street structure, but safety concerns continue to take center stage.
The nonprofit group Colonial Theater Inc., which owns the building, envisions restoring the it and turning it into a multi-use facility that would house live theater, conventions, University of Maine at Augusta events, guest lectures and other events. The renovations would cost between $2.5 million and $4.8 million.
But councilors are concerned that passing pedestrians could be hit by falling bricks, and that the structure could be unsound and at risk of collapsing onto neighboring property.
“That brought back a lot of memories for a few of us, but our immediate concern is still the safety of that building,” Mayor Roger Katz said following the tour of the dilapidated 1913 theater. “You’re doing a lot of work here. Have a lot of energy. But it is somewhat disappointing you’re not further along with the structural aspect. Our message, collectively, is we’ve really got to see some quick progress on these safety issues.”