BRC tours Brookville Theater

By John Estridge, Editor

Brookville Redevelopment Commission members met with Brookville Theater owner Rick Bender at the Brookville Theater Monday night, Jan. 20, and went on a tour where Bender discussed the planned renovations to the theater.

Bender plans on making the theater into a multiplex.

The theater district received a $300,000 grant from the Lawrenceburg Riverboat 10-County Grant Program.

According to Bender, he plans on making two theaters in the existing theater. One will be in the back of the theater and will be the smaller of the two theaters, seating 85. An existing wall on the south side will be taken down, extending the theater to the outside wall. The smaller theater will terminate about halfway down the existing theater where the smaller screen will stand. That screen will be 10 x 20.

The larger theater will then extend down to the existing screen, which will be replaced by a new screen which will be 12 x 24. That theater will seat about 125. The existing wall on the south side there will also be removed, which will add to the seating and extend to the outside wall.

All the seats will be replaced by new seats.

There will be digital projectors, screens and sound systems. Also, alongside the upper theater along the northern wall will be new men's and women's restrooms and a new motor room.

All the equipment, which includes the digital needs and the seats, will cost $225,000, Bender said.

He does not have a cost for the other work because he is awaiting approval from the state for the drawings before letting bids. Todd Thackery is his architect. Thackery is also a member of the BRC. According to Thackery, there may be a holdup with approval for the restrooms which will be located within the theater because they are on a slant. Because they are supposed to be ADA approved, they must have a flat landing by the door, both inside and outside the restroom. That would take some manipulation which was not taken into account in the drawings.

There is an appeal process Bender can use with the state, but it will take time. Bender said he does not have a Plan B if his restroom plans are turned down by the state, as he would like to have more restroom space for his multiplex.

Bender said there will be some minor changes in the entranceway. The employees' entrance to the concession area will be closed, and a wall will be constructed for an entranceway to the first theater. The entranceway for employees to the concession area will be at the opposite end of the concession area.

Also, there is a plan to keep the present screen that is in the theater and use it a couple of times a year on the outside of the theater to show free films. He said the town could block off the street, and people could sit on lawn chairs outside to watch the movies.

Bender said he will continue to show movies at the present theater until construction begins on the renovations. That will not occur until his plans are approved by the state.

According to Bender, Lawrenceburg awarded the grant to the theater district not because of the employment it would produce, but because State Rep. Jud McMillin and Bender believe the renovations will result in the drawing of 600 people per week into Brookville via the theater. Those people will buy gas, food and other products in Brookville, Bender said.

He plans to be open seven days a week and show two movies per night each night.

After the BRC members toured the theater, they met at the town hall in a regular meeting. They discussed the original application for the grant which set the cost for the project at $450,000. That means Bender would use one third of his money and two thirds of grant money. If the project does not cost $450,000, BRC members asked if they should release the entire $300,000 to Bender. It was decided to wait until more numbers were available to make a decision on that matter.

Also, it was decided to have BRC President Jon Hancher discuss with Bender the importance of getting more than one bid on items.

In other business, officers were elected for 2014, and the officers remained the same, with Hancher as president; Thackery is vice president; and Tammy Davis remains the secretary.

BRC also discussed the $300,000 grant BRC received from the Lawrenceburg 10-county grant. It includes $25,000 for the Eagles bowling alley. Members said it is their understanding the money is to be used to purchase a new sign for the bowling alley.