Fairborn group eager to restore historic theater; gets $500,000 in federal funds

Fairborn City Council approves project; next steps are to quickly replace theater’s roof, plumbing, electrical systems

FAIRBORN — Approval of a deal for $500,000 in federal funds has Jordan Terrell optimistic about his group’s efforts to restore the 74-year-old Fairborn Theater.

The agreement with the Fairborn Phoenix Foundation marks the largest single-entity allotment of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act money, which totals about $6.8 million.

The pact gives the nonprofit group “a great foundation for us to spring off of to complete our overall project,” which is estimated at $6 million, said Terrell, who co-founded the organization with Chris Morse.

Credit: COURTESY OF THE FAIRBORN AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Credit: COURTESY OF THE FAIRBORN AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

As outlined in the deal passed by city council this week, the federal money will help pay for essential building upgrades that make it more inviting for entertainment and fundraising events at the 34 S. Broad St. site.

Terrell said the group’s goal at the building, which has gone largely unused for more than 20 years, is to replace the roof and install new plumbing and electrical systems by the end of November.

“We’re very excited about next year, especially with this money coming in,” he said. “I think next year is going to be a pretty full year as far as our events go.”

After new infrastructure is in place, Terrell said fundraisers, galas, masquerade balls and comedy shows are envisioned for 2023 as work continues.

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Smaller shows have raised about $40,000 to date, he said.

The city’s deal spells out a series of requirements, among them compensating a handful of businesses and organizations involved in the project.

They include Common Bond Consulting for applying for state and federal historic tax credits, plus four business contractors for work such as plumbing, consulting and design services, Fairborn records show.

Fairborn Phoenix is required to have an energy audit needed to help secure financing, said Cherise Schell, city assistant economic development director.

“Should one or more of the milestones not be met” within five years, the property would revert to the Fairborn Development Corp., which earlier transferred the site to Fairborn Phoenix, Schell said.

ExploreEARLIER: Funeral set for former l’Auberge owner, longtime Dayton-area restaurateur

Council members, who voted 7-0 on the agreement, said the move is encouraging.

“I’m excited to see the continued efforts that Fairborn Phoenix puts into revitalizing this,” Mary Reaster said. “It’s an historic part of Fairborn and I’m glad to see new life being breathed into it.”

Clint Allen said support for this project came from results of a citywide survey earlier this year.

“We spent a lot of time and energy figuring out how to spend these ARPA dollars,” he said. “And I think this is a win for the city.”

ExploreIN-DEPTH: How area cities are responding to loss of neighborhood trees

In June, the city approved several projects to be the recipients of ARPA funds. Other major ones include:

•Former Fire Station #1 renovation, $2 million

•Stormwater projects, $1 million

•Economic development, $500,000

•Nonprofits/small businesses, $500,000

•Memorial Park construction, $500,000

•Community Park parking lot repair, $400,000

•Downtown façade upgrades, $300,000

•Main Street/Central Avenue, $250,000.

About the Author