Silver City MainStreet to get $175k from state for Downtown Theater District Plan
June 8, 2012
Silver City Sun News
Silver City Cabinet Secretary Jon Barela was in town Thursday to announce a $175,000 capital
outlay award to Silver City MainStreet to help it purchase the Silco Theater and begin implementing its Theater District Plan. The award is the largest amount given to any MainStreet program in the state from the $1 million that Governor Susana Martinez set aside to help fund MainStreet programs across the state during the special legislative session held in September 2011.
Barela spoke Thursday afternoon at the Silco to a crowd of MainStreet board members past and present, and supporters, which included Silver City Mayor James Marshall, town council members Jose Ray, Polly Cook, and Cynthia Bettison, Town Manager Alex Brown, County Commissioner Christy Miller, and state Rep. Rudy Martinez.
Last May, Barela accompanied Silver City MainStreet Manager Nick Seibel and others to an awards ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, where the Silver City MainStreet program was recognized as one of the five best MainStreet programs in the country and honored with the 2011 Great American MainStreet Award.
In February, Silver City MainStreet applied for a $200,000 grant from the state to purchase the Silco Theater as part of Phase One of a six-phase $4.725 million Silver City Theater District Plan, which calls for the three theaters on Bullard Street the Silco, the Gila and the El Sol to be restored and preserved and eventually become performing arts venues for film and other events downtown.
The six-phase plan will be funded by a combination of state, local public and private money. The
$175,000 grant is one of the first pieces of that plan.
This is a reflection of the outstanding work that is being done here in Silver City, Barela said
Thursday of the award. I think it will be well-used. When I walk around downtown Silver City, it is clear why Silver City MainStreet is the number one program in the country. These historic theaters get me personally charged up. These theaters represent the community. They are architectural wonders and I hate to see any of them torn down. Barela said the capital outlay award grants were a competitive process and Silver City s large, significant award represented the great work Silver City MainStreet leadership and board has done in the past and their clear vision for the future. He also commended Seibel for his dedication and efforts. Nick Seibel is a home-grown talent whose passion for historic preservation, job creation and the MainStreet Program are reflected in the product that all of Silver City and Grant County can enjoy, he said.
Barela said the New Mexico MainStreet program which is housed in the Economic Development Department is a valuable tool for economic development, especially in smaller communities, in assisting local businesses and creating jobs.
They are incredible cornerstones to what I call the rural renaissance, he said.
The historic Silco Theater was built in 1923 as a dual-purpose vaudeville and movie theater. While it has been privately owned, the Silver City MainStreet Project has leased it from the owners since 2006 and operated it as a multiple purpose rental venue filling a need for event, meeting and performance space in Historic Downtown Silver City. The $175,000 grant, coupled with some matching funds from the town, will allow the town to buy the theater, which MainStreet will continue to lease.
It will continue to be the same arrangement that we have had, but with the building now in public
hands we can pursue grant funding to preserve it, Seibel said. The town has access to more favorable financing than a private entity and MainStreet will continue to make the payments, so it will essentially cost the town nothing. The historic theater appraised at $10,000 more than the asking price of $369,000.
Letters of support for the project came from Dr. Joseph Shepard, president of WNMU, and Arlene Schadel, head of the Gila Economic Development Alliance, who wrote that the revitalization of downtown s three historic theaters two of which are currently vacant is an important economic development goal for Silver City and all of Grant County and will bring traffic downtown helping to support our existing businesses including downtown s restaurants, galleries, and hotels.
Freeport-McMoRan also previously committed $50,000 to the feasibility study on the plan from its Community Investment Fund. The $175,000 in state funding will be available in mid-September, Seibel said, and the town could close on the purchase of the theater in October.
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