LINCOLN, NEB. (May 13, 2011)—The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) has awarded $110,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding in the Tourism Development (TD) category to Grand Island to restore The Grand Theatre, a distinguished downtown landmark that opened 100 years ago this year as the Lydia Theatre.
The venue operated as Lydia Theatre until 1931 when it was renamed the Grand. It closed in 1985, but reopened a year later to feature classic movies. In 1992, the Theatre again began showing first-run movies, but in 2004, competition from the area's multi-screen theatres jeopardized its future. It was in 2004 that the Fridley Corporation offered to gift the building if a nonprofit stepped up to operate it. A group of downtown merchants then formed the Grand Foundation, Inc., and accepted the building as a tax-deductible donation.
The Foundation will use the funding to install updated energy efficient lighting outside, improve lighting above the concession counter, modify plumbing in the concession area to end leaking and prevent mold, and remove interior and exterior architectural barriers to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. This work includes redesigning the entryway doors with an automatic door opener, replacing concrete and foundation at the entryway to decrease slope, modifying concrete texture to reduce the risk of falling injuries, widening the existing storage area door, opening up the ticket booth area, eliminating the south exterior door in the storage room and sealing it, and smoothing out flooring. Matching cash and in-kind donations totaling $470,000 will complete the project.
Once completed, The Grand Theatre will show films, including weekly movie programming, free Saturday matinees, and movies for the Grand Island Public Library and various community clubs and organizations. Other events include LAN interactive video game events, concerts, receptions, weddings, political rallies and tours for area community groups.
Qualifications for TD funding require the physical development of new tourism attractions, or physical improvements to existing attractions. Applicants must provide local contributions equaling or exceeding 25 percent of a project's total cost.
Federal funds are made available to Nebraska from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's CDBG program, which assists with the development of businesses and communities throughout the state.
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