Sprinkler expense raises cost of CAT takeover of Uptown space

An unexpected $125,000 expense is standing in the way of Central Alberta Theatre’s proposal to take over and renovate the former Uptown Theatre in downtown Red Deer.

An unexpected $125,000 expense is standing in the way of Central Alberta Theatre’s proposal to take over and renovate the former Uptown Theatre in downtown Red Deer.

CAT’s executive director William Trefry discovered that a sprinkler system needs to be installed to bring the building up to current fire codes, “and that’s not an expense we had budgeted for.”

Trefry is hoping some corporate sponsors are willing to step in and help CAT make up the shortfall. The community theatre group is planning to approach some businesses to raise the $50,000 to $125,000 needed to get negotiations back on.

Several families own the former movie theatre that CAT is hoping to renovate for live performances. Trefry expects the entire renovation to cost about $500,000, with the sprinkler system.

The group is negotiating for a long-term lease of the building with an option to buy.

Trefry said the largest movie screening room would be converted to a live theatre space that could accommodate dinner theatre productions and other plays. Two other screening rooms would be joined to create a multi-use space that could be rented for various functions. And the smallest movie screening area could become rehearsal space, said Trefry.

“We’ve been working on this aggressively,” he added, “and we’re hoping to get it back on track.”

If renovations can begin next month, Trefry believes the building will be ready by May.

CAT also operates the Memorial Centre, which would continue to be used by the group and rented out for various entertainment events.

Having another live theatre venue would help revitalize the downtown, he said, adding that the Downtown Business Association is in favour of CAT’s proposal.

Anyone interested in becoming a corporate sponsor should call Trefry at 403-347-8111, ext. 5.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com