City Council set to approve sale of Hollywood Theater

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April 28, 2014 // UPDATED 10:31 am - April 30, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
The Hollywood Theater
City of Minneapolis
Ben Johnson
Local developer Andrew Volna hopes to restore theater's exterior to entice creative commercial tenant

Vacant and deteriorating for more than 25 years, a plan to fix up the old Hollywood Theater is shuffling forward.

Local developer Andrew Volna has agreed to purchase the theater from Minneapolis for $1 and pay for a number of initial, mostly exterior building improvements that would preserve its historic character.

The deal gives Volna 22 months to complete an estimated $500,000 worth of repairs, including restoration of the theater’s façade, marquee, canopy, outer lobby and ticket booth, and preservation of historic elements in the inner lobby and main auditorium.

Tomorrow afternoon the City Council Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee is scheduled to vote on the agreement.

UPDATE: City Council approved the sale and thanked Volna for his hard work. "This is a big day for the east side of Minneapolis and one of its historic treasures," said Ward 1 City Council Member Kevin Reich.

Volna performed due diligence for more than a year and met with the Audubon Neighborhood Association three times to discuss his vision for the property, located at 2815 Johnson St. NE. He hopes to find an anchor commercial tenant from the creative industry once the outside of the building is fixed up, and then build out the interior to the tenant’s specifications.

“I think the best way to profile a potential tenant would be someone who would be able to leverage the unique character of the building and the workspace,” said Volna. “It could be a theater again, but I don’t envision that in the near future.”

The Hollywood Theater was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in February, making the project eligible for state and federal historic tax credits.

Several prior attempts to restore the theater failed after the city bought the property in 1993. It operated from 1935 until 1987 and has been vacant since then.

Volna cautioned that the rehabilitation may go slow at first. He technically still has four months to continue due diligence after the sale closes.

“Some stuff would start this season, but I want to be careful to control people’s expectations,” he said. “The building is in pretty rough shape. It has a lot of water damage, plaster damage, there’s no heating or working bathrooms. It needs a lot of work.”