The Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Strategic Board fund approved the Dawn Theater project Tuesday, giving the Hillsdale Tax Increment Finance Authority the green light go ahead with the rehabilitation project.
“It means everything,” City of Hillsdale Zoning Administrator Alan Beeker said. “It means we can actually finally get started. Everything has been on hold until we heard from them.”
According to Beeker, TIFA is hopeful the project can begin in June.
“We are optimistic that we will be able to start at the beginning of June,” he said. “Now that we have the grant, we will move forward pursuing contracts with architects and contractors.”
The grant will provide the City of Hillsdale $1.415 million to aid the project, which has been in the works for the past few years.
The City of Hillsdale TIFA began accepting bids for the project this winter, but all bids received by February surpassed the then-budget of $1.3 million. After returning the construction bids and explaining that they all came in above budget, TIFA then received two bids under budget.
Now that MEDC has approved of the project, Beeker said they will reach out to the construction contractors and architects to put together a contract and finalized plan.
“Later on this week, we will revise the architect’s drawings so that the contractor has up to date drawings to draw up permits,” he said.
Board members of the MEDC were excited to approve the grant for the Dawn Theater. MEDC CEO Jeff Mason said in a media call that filling the space will be beneficial for the community.
“The restoration of the historic Dawn Theatre in Hillsdale will involve reactivating the vacant structure for community use by providing a venue for movies and special events,” he said.
In addition to filling a vacant space, Mason said that the rehabilitation project will also be a influence for the economy in Hillsdale.
“The project is expected to result in private investment of $400,000, creating approximately 27 jobs,” Mason said. “It will help strengthen the vibrancy of the historic city of Hillsdale.”
According to a news statement from the City of Hillsdale, the Dawn Theater will be used as a community space for movies, events, and rental.
“TIFA plans to restore the original brick facade and windows to their original appearance,” the statement said. “The work will also include asbestos and lead abatement, structural repairs, and roof replacement. Interior work includes the installation of new finishes, stage mechanicals and lighting.”
Greg Tedder, chief community development and marketing officer for MEDC, said that TIFA has been working to ensure the site is remodeled historically.
“They’re planning on rehabbing an existing theatre and their site plan is in accordance with the state historic preservation office, and we have been working on that project with them for the past few years,” Tedder said.
Since the project’s approval, TIFA is working to get everything in place as soon as possible.
“We are beyond excited to finally get started,” Beeker said.