The owners of wedding venue The Sanctuary on Penn purchased six businesses in the Fountain Square Theatre Building this week, with plans to increase activity in an event center that hosted vaudeville entertainment and screened movies in the 20th century.
Moller Enterprises, a company owned by Pike High School alumni Roger Reeves and Mark Smith, bought the theater operations from Linton Calvert, whom Reeves described as “the godfather of the revitalization of Fountain Square.”
Calvert sold the 70,000-square-foot building to Chicago-based North Park Ventures LLC in 2017 after owning it for nearly 25 years, but he and his wife, Fern, maintained their business ventures in the building.
The 2017 sale was reportedly a $6 million transaction, or 10 times the $600,000 Calvert paid in 1993 for the then-vacant structure at the corner of Prospect and Shelby streets.
Beginning with a building that was “all rats and pigeons,” in Reeves’ words, Calvert revitalized the theater and opened the only duckpin bowling alleys in the Midwest.
“There’s almost nothing in that building that he didn’t touch,” Reeves said of Calvert. “He’s invested, so I think it’s important to him to find the right investor.”
Reeves declined to disclose what Moller Enterprises paid for the six businesses:
- Fountain Square Theatre
- Action and Atomic Duckpin Bowling
- Fountainview Inn
- Eight apartments
- Imbibe Lobby Bar & Game Room
- Rooftop Garden & Lounge
The acquired businesses occupy 58,000 square feet of the 70,000-square-foot building. Calvert did not oversee a handful of the building’s tenants that are independently owned.
Moller purchased The Sanctuary on Penn, 702 N. Pennsylvania St., in 2021. This year, the venue has 74 events on its schedule.
Reeves said the Fountain Square Theatre hosts about 50 events per year, a number he would like to see increase substantially.
“We’re going to bring some of our wedding venue expertise from the Sanctuary, and we think we can do some pretty good things there,” Reeves said.
The six-story Fountain Square Theatre Building, which opened in 1928, is home to 11 boutique hotel rooms, known as the Fountainview Inn. Reeves said marketing dollars will be earmarked to raise awareness of the hotel.
“We don’t want to change anything they’re doing well,” he said. “But the hotel and theater venue aren’t performing well.”
Reeves said he and Smith asked North Park Ventures to add two five-year extensions to Calvert’s existing 10-year lease for the businesses.
“We’re betting a little bit on the upside of Fountain Square to continue to blossom,” Reeves said. “We certainly recognize the challenges associated with the pandemic. If things get goofy again, we could be back to where we were in 2020. That being said, we’re pretty bullish on the opportunity.”