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Historic Elks Theatre in Middletown put up for sale; Friends group wanted to buy it for $1

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 5/16/18

If you’d like to own one of the most historic downtown theaters in America, now is your chance.

 

The Elks Theatre in Middletown is up for sale, theater owners the Middletown …

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Historic Elks Theatre in Middletown put up for sale; Friends group wanted to buy it for $1

Posted

If you’d like to own one of the most historic downtown theaters in America, now is your chance.

The Elks Theatre in Middletown is up for sale, theater owners the Middletown Industrial and Commercial Development Authority decided during its Wednesday May 16 meeting.

ICDA member and borough Mayor James H. Curry III introduced a motion that the theater be listed for sale, through a listing agent who is already working for the ICDA. 

Curry’s motion was approved without discussion by fellow ICDA members Chairman Ian Reddinger and Dawn Knull, both of whom are members of borough council.

Curry declined to answer questions from the Press & Journal regarding the motion. Reddinger also declined comment, as did Knull.

The Elks Theatre has been closed since April 2015, when a previous ICDA made up of other members shuttered the theater for purposes of renovations.

In August 2015 the nonprofit group Friends of the Elks Theatre submitted a proposal to the ICDA to transform the theater into a performing arts center.

Friends grew out of the now-defunct Greater Middletown Economic Development Corporation, which formerly owned the Elks Building at South Union and West Emaus which includes the Elks Theatre on the Emaus Street side.

The GMEDC had operated the theater for many years, and continued operating it after the ICDA purchased the Elks Building from GMEDC in September 2014. GMEDC leased the theater from the ICDA from then until the authority closed the theater in April 2015.

In March 2017 the Friends group submitted a letter of intent to the authority, confirming its acceptance of the authority’s offer to transfer the theater to the Friends group for $1.

The Friends letter stated a desire to complete the transfer of the theater from ICDA to Friends on or before Dec. 31, 2017. However, that deadline came and went without the ICDA taking any action.

Curry and Reddinger had both previously said that if an arrangement could not be worked out to transfer the theater to the Friends group for $1, that the theater should be listed for sale.

Gordon Einhorn, a member of the Friends’ board of directors and the spokesman for the group, could not be reached for comment following the ICDA meeting.

In 2016 an estimate of $1.1 million to renovate the theater and reopen it as a performing arts center was provided by a construction firm that was hired by Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works, which now occupies all of the Elks Building except the Elks Theater.