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Local

Egyptian Theatre awarded $200K state grant for expansion project

Construction still underway, expected to go through summer

Alex Nerad, executive director of the Egyptian Theatre, speaks May 1 during the groundbreaking ceremony for the theater expansion project.
Alex Nerad, executive director of the Egyptian Theatre, speaks May 1 during the groundbreaking ceremony for the theater expansion project.

DeKALB – Keeping its promise to the DeKalb City Council to seek outside funding for expansion costs, the Egyptian Theatre has been awarded $200,000 by the state.

Of the 13 Tourism Attraction Grant recipients, the Egyptian received the fourth-highest amount, which theater officials said they plan to put toward expanding and renovating the historic building, and to install air conditioning.

The council recently approved the $4.5 million project, which will be supplemented by $2.5 million in tax increment financing assistance from the city. As part of the TIF incentive agreement, the council required the theater fund the remaining $2 million with outside grants or donations.

The theater’s board of directors signed a letter to the city stating they would not be asking for more city funds.

Jeanine Holcomb, marketing and communications director for the theater, said they applied for the grant earlier in the spring and are pleased that the state contributed what it did.

“We’re super excited,” Holcomb said Wednesday. “It’s right in the wheelhouse of how we intended to fund this project. This [grant] is new for us.”

Holcomb said the theater’s board of directors also is closing up a number of key donations for the capital project costs and expects to announce those by the first week of June. After participating in Give DeKalb County Day, an annual day of giving for countywide organizations, the theater brought in almost $25,000 more, which will go toward expanding concessions.

“Boy, our supporters have just surprised us,” Holcomb said. “We couldn’t be more grateful. While we want to remain a hyper-local theater, we want to be a regional performing arts center.”

According to its website, the theater has a capacity of 1,397, with 847 on the main floor and 550 in the balcony. The renovations are expected make the space more comfortable and allow for more prolonged use of the theater.

The project will increase the number of washrooms on both floors and make the building compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The concession offerings will be expanded to include liquor, with additional stations on the second floor, including an ADA-compliant station. Storage spaces will be added on both floors, carpeting will be replaced throughout, baby-changing stations will be added and lighting fixtures will be improved.

The theater held a groundbreaking for their expansion into Palmer Court on May 1, exactly 90 years after construction first began on the historic site.

Holcomb said construction is moving along, and theater officials are continuing to notify adjacent businesses and neighbors of the progress, especially as downtown traffic heats up through the summer with the farmers market, Corn Fest, and the Memorial Day Parade.

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