City Receives Grant For Theatre Restoration

City Receives Grant For Theatre Restoration

The City of Oneonta has secured a $500,000.00 grant from New York State toward improvements to the historic Oneonta Theatre. The theatre’s pre-urban renewal marquee is pictured above. (Photo provided)

ONEONTA – The City of Oneonta has been awarded a $500,000.00 grant to assist in the stabilization of the historic Oneonta Theatre by Governor Kathy Hochul and the Housing Trust Fund Corporation.

The Oneonta Theatre opened in 1897 as a vaudeville house, and later as a cinema. Recently, the New York State Preservation League listed the Downtown Oneonta Historic District, including the Oneonta Theatre, on its 2022/23 list of “Seven to Save” historic resources.

Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek said the community owes a huge debt of gratitude to the civic-minded citizens of Friends of the Oneonta Theatre and 47 Chestnut Street LLC for their tireless efforts in bringing back the Oneonta Theatre. The building was recently purchased by 47 Chestnut Street LLC. FOTOT and the theatre’s owners continue to seek additional funding and donations to assist with needed renovations.

“With the success of the city’s Planning and Development Department in securing the generous support of the New York Main Street Program, Oneonta will once again enjoy musical and stage performances to rival those in venues 60 miles away—in a unique and vintage treasure that we’ve missed so badly. Thank you to them, and congratulations to us. The future just got a little brighter,” Mayor Drnek said.

The funding is through the New York Main Street Program included in the 2022 Regional Economic Development Council Consolidated Funding Application round. The NYMS program is administered by New York State Homes and Community Renewal to support projects that improve and revitalize Main Streets and strengthen local economies.

“The City of Oneonta’s downtown district is in the midst of a full-scale transformation and the historic Oneonta Theatre will play a leading role,” said Senator Peter Oberacker. “This state grant adds to the city’s recent run of success and is proof positive that our local elected officials and community leaders are on the right path. Oneonta has a well-earned reputation as an arts community and rejuvenating the Oneonta Theatre, with the Friends of the Oneonta Theatre at the helm, will further solidify opportunities for economic growth and quality of life.

“I was proud to support Oneonta’s grant application and look forward to the work ahead in restoring a key piece of the city’s history,” Oberacker added.

Robert Brzozowski, president of the Friends of the Oneonta Theatre, had nothing but praise for the collaboration that led to the grant funding.

“Thanks for City Hall’s support for the Oneonta Theatre. There is a lot of work ahead of us, but we are confident that working together with the support of so many in Oneonta and the region, the Oneonta Theatre will once again be a venue for the performing arts and a driver of economic development in the area.”

A feasibility study and building conditions report completed in 2019 with funding from HCR under the City’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Program showed that roof leaks and roof drains posed a threat to the building, and interim roof repairs have since been undertaken. The Oneonta Theatre Stabilization Project will completely replace the flat roof on all three parts of the building and rebuild the roof drainage system.

Completion of this first phase of the renovation project will ensure that the roof is structurally sound with no further water damage and deterioration, setting the stage for a full renovation. The 2019 feasibility study estimated full renovation costs for the theatre to be between $3-10 million.

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