Schine Theater/Auburn NY

More drama in the continuing battle to protect and preserve a true Eberson masterpiece:

Schine’s a better value than Kalets for theater

Posted: Thursday, April 29, 2010 3:00 am | (2) Comments

Schine’s a better value than Kalets for theater

I would like to dispel some of the misconceptions regarding the Schine’s. One that the building is crumbling. Not true. In 2003 the roof was restored. In 2004, the outside facade was done; in 2006, some asbestos abatement plus electrical service to the building was restored and sump pumps were brought online to dry the basement.

Major past gifts and grants for the Arts Council

• $88,000 State Environmental Bond Act, purchase/stabilization in 1996.

• 1998 Renee Schine Crown $25,000.

• State grant $228,000, 1998.

• HUD grant $138,000, Congressman Walsh.

• 2001 Senator Nozzolio $100,000 and Crown Foundation for $10,000.

• 2002 N Y State Bond Act $117,500.

• 2003 NYS Main Street Grant $25,000.

• 2005 HUD Grant $248,576 senators Clinton and Schumer.

Of monies above, $678,000 went to the Schine’s providing “non-glamorous” highly tangible efforts that are not visible from the sidewalk. The latest effort for funding in 2008, under a New York state grant was rejected. I feel the Arts Council has done a great job with the funding received thus far!

Contrasting this is $380,000 was spent just to stabilize Kalet’s, or 56 percent of that spent on the Schine’s. Ultimately, if the result were to tear down Kalet’s, retrospectively this would have been better spent on the Schine’s.

Misinformation that the Schine’s theater restoration will cost around $20 million is unfounded. From the “Auburn Schine’s Theater Restoration and Rehabilitation” booklet by the Arts Council, the cost including general conditions overhead and construction contingency, adjusted for 2007 totaled approximately $4,950,000 not including the soft costs and operating expenses. A worst-case value, as I am not subtracting funding already in place. Using current inflation values from 2007 to present, from the federal government, is $5,175,000 in today’s dollars. Now compare this to the $4,800,000 for a theater on the Kalet site, If you look at a cost per seat, the proposed theater at 384 seats is $12,500/seat vs. Schine’s at 1,000 seats is $5,175/seat. This puts the proposed theater at 2.3 times the cost of the Schine’s per seat! I feel that Schine’s offers a “bigger bang for the buck”! Granted a larger venue, but if MTF projections are true, this is a very feasible project. I can only rationalize that the $20 million number thrown around is a gross underestimate of the replacement cost for this, as Clinton called it, jewel of Auburn.

Pete Ruzicka

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