Originally Published: November 29, 2016 6:01 a.m.
PRESCOTT – With “the last piece of the puzzle” now firmly in place, the multi-year, multi-million-dollar renovation of the Elks Theatre building is officially complete.
Earlier this month, crews installed a new exterior fire escape on the alley side of the building – effectively finishing the job that had been underway off and on for the past three years or so.
“It is ready to go,” project architect Frank DeGrazia said this past week, as he conducted a walk-through of the upper floors of the Gurley Street building.
Meanwhile, city officials report that all levels of the building have been granted the necessary certificates of occupancy.
That sets the stage for use of the new dance studios, music isolation booths, recording studio, large space for weddings and other events, and a massive catering kitchen.
Steven Kartstein, the new marketing and program manager for the Prescott Elks Performing Arts Center, says he expects the newly renovated space to be open for use by early December. (An informal open house is set for Dec. 9. See related story.)
Design and installation of the new fire escape was necessary to replace the existing old staircase, which the City of Prescott determined did not meet code. Several weeks ago, crews with The Ironworker, Inc. – a sub-contractor for general contractor Haley Construction Co. – installed the new fire escape.
The component, which DeGrazia said was the final “piece of the puzzle,” culminates years of work to restore and preserve the 1905 downtown-Prescott building.
Overall, DeGrazia says the renovation costs for the building owners – the non-profit Elks Theatre & Performing Arts Center – totaled about $5.6 million. That includes the recently completed interior renovation, as well as a $1.8 million restoration of the building’s deteriorating brick exterior, which wrapped up in spring 2014.
DeGrazia notes that the interior renovation includes numerous state-of-the-art features, such as a Harlequin Sprung Floor system for the ballet room, Soundlok Sound Isolation Practice rooms, and a machine-room-less elevator.
Coupled with those features are vintage touches as well: Solid-wood raised paneling; tin ceiling panels on the upper floor’s barrel-vault ceilings, reminiscent of the originals found elsewhere in the building; and oak tongue and groove floors.
The first of the two renovation phases got underway soon after the non-profit organization bought the building from the City of Prescott in 2012.
The theater portion, which was restored under a 2009-2010 project that was paid for largely through private donations and fundraising, continued to operate throughout the latest renovation and was not a part of the project. (Money for the recent $5.6 million renovation came from the non-profit organization, not from public sources.)
Along with work on the second and third floors, the renovation also included the ground-level floor, which has been offered for retail space. A new barbershop, John Hancock Barbershop, is already operating in one of the spaces, while C. Martin Jewelers is in place in another. A third space is available for lease.
With the renovation now complete, Kartstein says he will begin reaching out to the local performing arts community. “We want to invite them to use the building,” he said this past week. “We’re looking to have an influence.”
For instance, he said, if the local high school is putting on a play and needs a place to practice, “We can do that.” Other uses might include dance classes or music lessons.
Potential users of the space could include children, adults, and college students, Kartstein said, noting, “It’s not restricted.”
While the usage rates are still being determined, Kartstein said part of the center’s mission is to keep the pricing levels low. He expects various rate structures and says, “It’ll be minimal.”
The third-floor space – featuring large windows with sweeping views, as well as a restored balcony overlooking Gurley Street – will be available primarily as rental space for weddings and other events, Kartstein said.