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Ravenna to start theater construction

By DIANE SMITH Staff Writer Published: May 16, 2017 4:00 AM

As developers of a proposed movie theater in downtown Ravenna sought to tie up loose ends regarding financing for the project, proponents of the development pledged to move forward with construction in June, if not sooner.

Neighborhood Development Services plans to renovate Paul's Do-It Center at 129 N. Chestnut St. into a 20,000-square-foot, seven-screen multiplex. Mike Bogo of NDS said the number of screens had been scaled back from the eight originally planned when NDS first announced the plans.

The proposal before Ravenna City Council's community and economic development committee on Monday concerned details about the $1.2 million in Revolving Loan Funds reserved for the theater through the city in 2015. NDS also recently approached Portage County commissioners, who agreed to move forward with commitment of $500,000 through the county's Revolving Loan Fund.

Revolving loan funds are often used for downtown redevelopment because interest rates are low and payments are more flexible. When the loans are repaid, they go back into the fund to be used for other projects. Extending those loans helps the city leverage more funding from the state, Mayor Frank Seman has pointed out previously.

The city also helped facilitate a tax break for the project last year through a pilot program that required approval by the state.

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Bogo said he is "trying to tie everything up," finalizing last minute details with public and private financing of the project. A contractor has been hired, who will probably start with demolition on the roof of the hardware store and installation of a new roof high enough to accommodate the theater screens, even before those details are finalized.

"We're doing everything we can to get started," he said, expecting the work to be easily be completed by March 2018.

He said parking is not expected to be a problem because of "rolling start times" of the movies being shown.

In other business, the committee moved forward with a resolution in support of Main Street Ravenna.

The resolution commits the city "to provide financial support to the Main Street organization when established," stating that amount was "not to exceed one half of the annual program budget."

Councilman Rob Kairis, a member of the Main Street Ravenna board of directors, said the city could determine the amount of support it contributes, and could make in-kind contributions or cash. One possible form of support could be office space in a city-owned building.

Kairis said the board is now working to raise private donations for Main Street, and also working to hire an executive director.


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