TheMichigan Eco­nomic Devel­opment Corporation’s Strategic Board fund approved the Dawn Theater project Tuesday. Dawn Theater project. Collegian|Julia Mullins

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.