Chief Plaza going up for sale
Owner placing downtown movie theater on the market
November 29, 2009
For information about purchasing Chief Plaza Theater, call Jon Sanders, of Ski Town Commercial Real Estate, at 871-0002.
Steamboat Springs — The Chief Plaza Theater is going up for sale.
Jon Sanders, principal with Ski Town Commercial Real Estate, said last week that owner Michael Barry would place the building that houses 811, 813 and 815 Lincoln Ave. on the market for an undisclosed price.
The building includes the movie theater and two retail stores: Summit Shades and Blossom, which sells women's clothing and gift items. The two stores total 1,480 square feet, and the movie theater is 5,520 square feet, Sanders said. He added that Barry has owned Chief Plaza Theater since 1970 and converted it to a four-theater format in 1989.
Sanders, formerly of Ski Town Lifestyle Properties and Green Courte Partners, said last week that he has just begun his own firm and will place Chief Plaza on the Multiple Listing Service soon, once all the final requirements for Ski Town Commercial Real Estate are completed.
He added that ideally, a new owner of Chief Plaza would look to create a performing arts venue at the downtown Steamboat Springs location.
"The idea would be to find somebody who would want to purchase this and convert it back into a single theater," Sanders said. "It'd be nice to have a venue where we could have performing arts and movies, and kind of create a hybrid."
That idea has been floating around the city for some time.
"If there was any way to swing it, I think it would be fabulous to turn it back into a theater — we've talked about that for five years," Tracy Barnett of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs said about the Chief Plaza building. "It would be awesome to have a performing kind of venue downtown."
Conversations about a performing arts venue accelerated in spring of when Steamboat Mountain Theater closed before the demolition of Ski Time Square.
Local performing arts venues include the Strings Music Pavilion, the Steamboat Springs High School auditorium and, on a smaller scale, the Depot Art Center. The Ghost Ranch Saloon opened this year and provides a large downtown venue for live music, and other bars and restaurants host musicians, as well.
Sanders said the original theater in the Chief Plaza building, once called the Village Theater, held about 600 people — a potentially enticing capacity for touring bands.
Sanders acknowledged that the building needs improvements regardless of the use, even if a new owner should decide to keep Chief Plaza as a movie theater.
"There's going to have to be dollars put into it to keep it nice enough to keep it running," Sanders said. "It's slowly getting aged."
Carmike Cinemas has about three years left on its lease, Sanders said. Summit Shades has nearly four years left, and Blossom has about one year, he said.
Barnett said despite the theater's age, it's still an attraction on Lincoln Avenue.
"A movie theater is a draw for downtown," Barnett said, speculating that a new owner could find a variety of uses in that vein. "It could be foreign films; it could be all kinds of different possibilities."
Barnett added that at this point, such an idea is "just a dream." The building could house a restaurant, retail or other businesses, she said, whereas a hybrid performing arts model likely would require creative financing options such as nonprofit status, grants or community collaboration.
"It's going to take a champion that could make that happen," she said.
Sanders said he already has interest in the building and hopes its placement on the MLS spurs a community conversation.
"I'd love to hear what the community wants to have there," Sanders said.
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