Colonnade project approaches finish line
Rebuilding the only movie theater in northern Dauphin County has been progressing at a strong clip since this spring, and owners expect the facility to open before the end of the year.
The Colonnade Theater on Center Street in Millersburg closed more than a decade ago.
Afterward, Marvin and Doris Troutman donated the building to the community theater group Twin Valley Players, said Nathan Troutman, a board member of the organization.
Amid a wider economic development vision in the borough, the plan to reopen the site as a movie theater emerged, Troutman said.
The project was awarded a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant and money from Dauphin County, but that wasn't enough to cover the cost to turn the property into a combination movie theater and performance venue, Troutman said.
The first low bid results came back at roughly $2 million, or about $500,000 over the funding level, he said.
A subsequent effort pared down the project to about $1.7 million.
The Twin Valley Players decided to take out a line of credit with Integrity Bank along with its bridge loan instead of waiting on the results of fundraising, Troutman said.
So for all the planning up to that point, the work has seemed to go at high speed recently, he said.
Construction has hit no major hurdles, and the weather has cooperated. In the meantime, the group has gone out and raised additional funding.
"It's certainly been a rapid project," Troutman said.
York County-based eciConstruction LLC is on track to complete building the facility on schedule, project manager William Bromley said. The firm submitted a proposal for the site and worked with the owners to help save costs, he said.
What makes the project interesting is how it channels "small-town Americana," Bromley said.
"It just reminds me of the early 1900s, probably, when most communities did have their own little theaters," he said.
The theater group has hired a general manager for the theater and expects the facility to open around the middle of December, Troutman said.
The organization also has worked out a few agreements for patrons to use parking lots in the neighborhood but is seeking more and, to start out, it might run movies throughout the week, considering the holidays and college students being home for break.
They hope the movie theater will bring more traffic to businesses in the borough, he said, and it should give young people something to do in the community.
"If nothing else, it serves a basic need, because there is no other movie theater around," Troutman said.
The facility will be a single-screen Friday-through-Sunday cinema, complete with stadium seating and surround sound, for movies that will get to the Colonnade a few weeks after they are first released to theaters, he said.
Twin Valley Players can sell sponsorships on the screen to help support its mission, and the facility can be a venue for its performers, who have used the Halifax Area School District's high school for performances for years.
Educational programs in visual arts and workshops for students also can take place there, Troutman said.
Although the aged building had to be torn down, its marquee will hang above the concession area, and at least one of the old projectors will be on display inside the facility.
The rest of the time, the community theater group can use it for performances and rehearsals, or people can rent it for events, Troutman said.
The organization plans to have its annual summer performance at the Colonnade next year.
"Had the building not been donated, it never would have happened," Troutman said.