After five years of waiting, the $4.3 million restoration of the historic Holly Theatre in downtown Medford should start in June with completion expected in fall 2018.
“The Holly will be a great new addition that will give us more entertainment choices,” said Medford resident Leigh Johnson, who is one of 1,662 donors for the project.
Fundraising, which will continue throughout construction, has amassed 77 percent of the total needed for the project, and architectural and engineering specifications have been completed.
The last tour of the Holly will be held May 6, with 6,500 people having passed through the dilapidated interior since the first-Saturday tours began in 2013.
Johnson said the Holly will help attract more people to the region in addition to other entertainment events such as the Britt Music & Arts Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Craterian Theater. Beyond that, he said, it will be a boost to the local economy.
“It’ll certainly help the hotels, motels, restaurants, gas stations and retail industry,” Johnson said.
The 1930 building at the corner of Holly and Sixth streets was constructed in the era of grand movie theaters built throughout the U.S.
In 2011, the JPR Foundation purchased the building and a year later began restoration of the facade, installing a new marquee and blade sign, as well as fixing broken trusses supporting the roof. The project stalled after a dispute erupted between JPR and Southern Oregon University, culminating in the ouster of JPR’s former executive director, Ron Kramer.
Once restored, the Holly will have 1,003 seats, larger than other indoor venues between Eugene and Redding.
Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit that advances art in the U.S., estimated the Holly will bring an additional $3 million into the Rogue Valley economy every year and create 90 full-time equivalent jobs, as well as bring 10,000 additional hotel guests a year.
The contractor, HamCom Builders of White City, will be working with Jefferson Live!, which is affiliated with the JPR Foundation, to look at subcontractor bids over the next two months to help bring down prices.
Randy McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live!, said he’s not sure yet what the final bid will be after working to “value engineer” the project.
“We are not looking to cut any real corners,” he said. “We promised the community an authentic restoration.”
McKay said the contract with HamCom will allow for as much construction as is currently in the budget with the anticipation that further fundraising and grant efforts will bring in more money.
“Once we start construction, that’s when we can really mount the last piece of the fundraising campaign,” he said.
He said the most expensive parts of the building won’t be seen by the general public, including electrical and air conditioning. The building will require a lot of electricity to power the lighting systems, McKay said.
Once the doors open, McKay…