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New roof to help stabilize historic Indy theater

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The Rivoli Theatre, the huge, historic, decrepit movie theater on Indianapolis' near-east side, is getting a new roof and with it, new hope.

The building, at 3155 E. 10th Street, has been vacant since 1992 and is in an advanced state of disrepair. But a new roof will stabilize it, staving off further deterioration and, the building's backers hope, be the first step in revitalizing what was once the neighborhood's crown jewel.

Work has begun on the new roof, which will cover only the auditorium and stage areas, not the entire building, The Indianapolis Star reported. The job was supposed to have begun in March but was delayed by unforeseen structural problems and the need for more cash, said James Kelly, board president of the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts Inc., the not-for-profit that owns the building.

Since early in the year, the group has had in hand a $300,000 Community Development Block Grant, federal money via the city. It was thought to be enough to cover expenses. But another $40,000 was needed, and that has now arrived via a loan from Indiana Landmarks, the historic preservation group.

A legal battle regarding ownership also slowed preservation efforts.

The storied Rivoli is considered a linchpin in the effort to revitalize the area. It was built in 1927 as an enormous and fancy single-screen movie house by Universal Pictures, with 1,500 seats, but now would be re-purposed into an arts-themed community center that would focus on youth and education. Plans for the Rivoli's future use are still vague. The focus for now is bricks-and-mortar.

With its fantastical architecture by Henry Ziegler Dietz, the Rivoli has for years been in the sights of local would-be preservationists. But after decades of deferred maintenance — the theater's interior looks like post-World War II Europe — that task has proved too daunting. There's been no progress.

But now there's progress. "It's really happening," said Kelly, who grew up in the neighborhood and attended movies and concerts at the Rivoli. "The train is pulling out of the station."

A long, difficult journey lies ahead, however. Kelly estimated it would take $5 million to rehab the building. His group so far has amassed just $10,000.

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  • Is it really worth it?
    I'd love to see the Rivoli restored, simply from a preservationist standpoint and an anchor to a once vibrant area's history. But at this point, is it really worth it? There have been several announcements over the last 20 years or so that it was going to be rehabbed, but not much, if anything has been done in that time.

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  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.

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