Steamboat's Chief Plaza Theater under contract

Friends of the Chief must raise $50K in earnest money by Sept. 15

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— The Friends of the Chief has reached an agreement to buy the Chief Plaza Theater, but the deal is contingent on raising $50,000 in earnest money by Sept. 15.

Friends of the Chief spokesman Jim Cook said that if the group secures the $50,000, it would have time to apply for grant funding to buy and renovate the theater. Friends of the Chief has raised $15,000, which means $35,000 remains.

“We’re very confident we’ll reach the $50,000,” Cook said.

He said the agreement, which was reached Aug. 15, is basically an option to buy the downtown theater. The $50,000 is nonrefundable. Cook said he couldn’t comment further because of confidentially.

Friends of the Chief has planned a $6 million to $8 million renovation that would convert the historic four-screen theater to a single-stage performing arts center with 450 seats.

Chief Plaza owner Michael Barry, reached by phone Tuesday afternoon from his home in Lakeside, Mont., said he thought the plans to renovate the theater were fantastic.

“I have a great deal of warm thought for Steamboat Springs — matter of fact I have a daughter, son-in-law and three grandkids still there,” he said. “I’ve seen (Friends of the Chief’s) plans. They want to bring it back to the way the Chief was when it was first built. I think a venue like that is sorely needed in Steamboat.”

The 1920s-era Chief Plaza Theater was a single-stage theater with more than 600 seats when he bought it in 1970, Barry said. Having retired six years ago and now splitting time between Montana and Naples, Fla., Barry listed the theater for sale last summer.

Barry wouldn’t disclose the agreed-upon price of the Chief, but said it was less than what the theater is probably worth. The listing price was once $2.87 million.

Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said a renovated Chief would become an anchor for downtown benefiting businesses while creating more nightlife options.

Barnett, who leads the group that promotes the downtown Steamboat shopping district, added that it would be amenity that doesn’t exist downtown. She said it would provide a meeting space for events such as conventions or weddings as well as being a location for a variety of entertainment options.

“The more things that we have for people to do in the evenings downtown is really important,” she said.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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