Rivoli Theatre finally cleared for comeback

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A legal battle that had threatened the landmark Rivoli Theatre has been settled, and a $300,000 grant has been secured to begin stabilizing the East 10th Street structure.

The Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts Inc., the not-for-profit that owns the building at 3155 E. 10th St., on June 8 cleared what it believes will be the last legal hurdle posed by Charles R. Chulchian, the one-time owner of the property.

REW_rivoli_15colRenovations will begin with the roof, which is in danger of caving in. (IBJ Photo/Perry Reichanadter)

Chulchian, who bought the theater in 1976, gifted it to the not-for-profit in 2007 but retained a partial interest, which had complicated efforts to improve the structure. In February, he agreed to surrender his interest in the property, but in April he resurrected his effort to intervene in the Rivoli’s future, sending the ownership dispute back to court.

A judge’s order reaffirming the February agreement will allow work to begin on the 1927 movie house, which is expected to become a catalyst for further redevelopment of the East 10th Street corridor, the stretch adopted by organizers of Super Bowl XLVI.

The first order of business is to replace the roof, which is in danger of caving in. The city has agreed to devote federal Community Development Block Grant funds to the project.

The grant recipient is the East 10th Street Civic Association, which is partnering with Keystone Construction on the project. Tammi Hughes, executive director of the civic association, said Keystone will be the construction manager and will donate its fee to the effort.

“It’s been 10 years of start and stop,” said Hughes, noting that while her organization has been trying to save the building for about a decade, the community’s efforts go back much further. “We’re absolutely thrilled to have the city on board as a partner.” City officials involved in making the grant were not available to comment.

Hughes’ group is in the process of securing an engineering firm to do a final evaluation of the roof. That should happen in August, followed by Keystone’s work. The roof is expected to be replaced by December.

As that work progresses, the civic association will work with the Rivoli board to convene stakeholders to revisit what the building might become, Hughes said. Unless that process results in a shift in direction, the Rivoli could pattern itself after the Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center on Chicago’s south side. Rivoli advocates visited Little Black Pearl a few years ago and came away impressed with its role as a cultural arts center providing performance space, studio space, practice rooms and other arts opportunities for children and families.

Hughes said once her group and the Rivoli board agree on a direction for the Rivoli, they’ll be able to assess how much money it will take to prepare the building for its new role in the community.

The Rivoli, at 10th and Dearborn streets, is expected to anchor one of three redevelopment nodes along the corridor. The others, at 10th and Jefferson and 10th and Rural, benefitted from significant public and private investment leading up to the Super Bowl last February.


  • Mr. O'Hara
    Thank you for sharing some of your memories from the building. My Mom graduated from Tech in 1943. She has many wonderful memories of the Rivoli. Please keep in touch with our group. You can find out about membership at RivoliTheatre.org. Click on support.Board meetings are held the first Wed. of each month at 6 PM at the John Boner Center, second floor. Visitors are always welcome.
  • Awesome!!
    Such great news!! Great job to all those working to make this happen!!
  • Fabulous News
    I lived in the corner apartment over the Rivioli during 1943 to 1946 and my mother was the cashier at the theatre which at that time was run my the Cantor family along with most of the smaller theatres in town. I am so glad to see this project moving forward and hope that the group does not forget the history that goes with this building. I can recall many good events while I lived there but most importantly when my father returned from China at the end of the Second World War.

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

    2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

    3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

    4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

    5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.