The city of Lafayette has allocated the necessary $500,000 for the Park Theater Trust to close escrow on the renovation of the historic downtown theater by a Dec. 15 deadline, avoiding a possible price increase.
The council will officially approve the transfer of funds at its Dec. 13 meeting. The Trust, which was formed by the city, would then fundraise the rest of the estimated $3 million for the project.
The move was included in the council’s Nov. 23 approval of a plan to spend the first half of $6.37 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal stimulus money. The city received half the money in July, with the other half coming in July 2022.
The council also approved sending $880,555 to protect existing city services and replace general revenue losses caused by the pandemic (city calculations for revenue loss is actually $2.9 million, but more federal money may be on the way).
Another $350,000 went to the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce to put on events promoting the city, as well as day-to-day operations. The council also sent $100,000 to support Lafayette nonprofits, the vote for which Mayor Susan Candell and Vice-Mayor Teresa Gerringer recused themselves because of their involvement with one of the groups about to benefit from the money. Otherwise, the vote on the other allocations was unanimous.
The council also directed $15,000 for a business district shuttle, and $100,000 on consulting contracts for spending the ARPA money.
The council will come back for a formal decision on the rest of the money, including $270,000 for the HVAC/ventilation system at the community center, $200,000 to keep expanded outdoor dining downtown, $100,000 for small business technical assistance, and $100,000 for business district marketing. Another $322,000 remains unallocated.
The city created the Park Theater Trust in 2018 to restore the theater and make it a focal point in a revitalized downtown. Located on Golden Gate Way, the theater has 4,850 square feet of space and seats 344. The site also includes a fourplex apartment building.
The renovated theater would include a mezzanine community space, a rooftop terrace, and green space along Lafayette Creek. The most frequent answer to an August 2021 survey of Lafayette businesses as to what downtown improvements would help business was “additional arts, culture and entertainment venues.”
The theater opened Aug. 21, 1941, less than four months before the U.S. entered World War II. The goal is to reopen in 2023.