Discussions are ongoing for a community-based group to purchase the historic Chief Plaza Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs. An appraisal of the property is expected in the next 10 days.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Discussions are ongoing for a community-based group to purchase the historic Chief Plaza Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs. An appraisal of the property is expected in the next 10 days.

Steamboat Chief Plaza Theater deal expires, discussion continues

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— The contract for a community-based group to buy the historic Chief Plaza Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs has expired, but people on both sides of the deal say discussions continue.

Jim Cook, speaking for Fri­ends of the Chief, said rather than extending the purchase contract a second time, the two parties have agreed to wait until an appraisal of the property is complete.

“That will be the tell-all,” Cook said. “We expect it within a week to 10 days.”

Friends of the Chief put the theater owned by Michael Barry under a purchase contract in late August. Commercial broker Jon Sanders, of Ski Town Commercial Real Estate, said this week that the downtown theater is back on the market, but he confirmed that the deal with the Friends of the Chief could be revived.

“Michael wants to see this happen. He thinks it’s a great idea for the community,” Sanders said. “That’s why he’s been so patient. Hope­fully it will close by the end of the year. We all think that’s possible.”

However, Sanders added that if the next contractual round doesn’t bear fruit, he and his client are prepared to move forward with backup contracts — he said he’s been talking with two potential buyers who don’t want to step in front of the community group.

The group didn’t meet the timeline, Sanders said, and it was agreed that they’d wait for the results of the appraisal and then let the buyers move forward with financing based on the results.

The group intended to pursue a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan to close the deal but now may seek another form of interim financing to acquire the theater and possibly go for a USDA loan after the sale is final, Sanders said.

Ultimately, Friends of the Chief hopes not only to purchase the historic building, but also to refurbish and transform it into a one-room theater.

The purchase price has not been disclosed, but Barry was asking $2.87 million. The cost of buying and remodeling the building has been estimated at $8.8 million.

The group is contemplating adding a balcony to increase seating and attract a variety of entertainment formats.

Carmike Cinemas has a lease on the theater into 2012. Friends of the Chief member Tracy Barnett, manager of Mainstreet Steamboat Springs, characterized the lease as a plus because it gives the group time to plan the restoration.

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