Bids for plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning projects at the Colony Theatre came in higher than expected, further delaying an overall theater renovation project that has been in the works for about a decade.
Hunt Brawley, director of development for the Hippodrome/Colony Historical Theatre Association, said the theater's original geothermal heating and cooling system will not be renovated as planned because the cost to do so is $200,000 more than estimated.
"Essentially the timeline and the amount of overage of the estimates coming in on the geothermal put it up to a point where we couldn't afford it," Brawley said. "What we've done is essentially put it back on the street and we're hoping to get bids this Friday on a revised scope of work. What it would be is a more conventional system than what we had hoped would be a really efficient system going forward."
The Hippodrome/Colony Theatre was originally constructed at its current location on Putnam Street in Marietta in 1918 and it was opened the following year.
Board president Dan Stephan purchased the facility in 1989, four years after the Colony's previous owner had to close the theater due to high heating and cooling costs.
Board members are hopeful that once the renovation project is completed, the stage will be used by locally and nationally known comedians, local dance companies and everything in between.
How to help:
To donate to the Colony Theatre restoration project, call 373-0894.
The main components of the geothermal system, which uses water pumped from a well in back of the building to heat and cool the entire theater, are still in place and officials with the theater have said for years it would be renovated and used again.
Brawley said estimates indicated it would cost $870,000 to restore the system, but bids came in $200,000 higher than that.
"We had to unfortunately scale back and it won't be as efficient but it will still be a good system," he said. "We're disappointed but it may have saved some heartache in the future because we didn't know where we were going to take this water (discharged by the system)."
Stephan said bids for a plumbing project at the theater came in "substantially" higher than anticipated, but he was not immediately able to provide figures.
Brawley declined to say how much the plumbing bids were or how much they were over the estimate, pointing out that new bids are expected to be submitted Friday.
"The architects are looking at fine tuning all the specifications, like can you use plastic pipe where you originally said copper pipe," Stephan said. "We don't want to cut the quality of the rehabilitation but we want to do it in the most economical way we can."
The cost of the overall renovation project is $5.5 million. It is being funded with private and public contributions as well as tax credits. Brawley said $450,000 is still needed.
Anyone wishing to make a donation should call the theater at 373-0894 for information.
So far, the theater has gotten a new roof, secure exterior doors and a new fire curtain. There has also been work done in the first floor bathrooms and demolition work has been completed in the lobby.
Brawley added that the building is also environmentally clean, with plaster and asbestos having been removed. The plan was for construction to begin by the end of last year, but he said it will likely begin in August due to the bids having come in too high.
In its heyday, the theater was a place where folks could enjoy vaudeville acts, Broadway plays, magic acts and silent films accompanied by the Hippodrome's five-piece orchestra.
Stephan said despite the delays, he's confident the theater will be restored to its former glory.
"After all these years, we're close," he said. "It's a gigantic jigsaw puzzle and getting all the pieces together, we've been working a long time on it and I think now we're within a couple months of getting all those pieces together. It's been a wild ride."