Originally Published: December 9, 2015 6 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Dance studios, music rooms, and catering space are all beginning to take shape in downtown Prescott's historic theater.
With months of renovations already behind them, workers with Haley Construction Co. were busy this week finishing walls, windows, and floors in the upper levels of the 110-year-old Elks Theatre.
The work is a part of the owners' - the non-profit Elks Theatre Performing Arts Center - efforts to convert the theater into a center offering classes in ballet, clogging, tap, musical instruments, and singing.
Project architect Frank DeGrazia said the current phase is now about 55- to 60-percent complete. "They're looking at completion in May 2016, and they are on schedule, as projected," DeGrazia said Tuesday, Dec. 8, as he walked through the construction zone.
With about six months left in the project, work was progressing on multiple fronts this week.
Even as some workers were finishing the second-floor rooms for the dance and music studios, others were applying tin tiles to the ceilings and beginning to install the wood panels and baseboards that will adorn walls of the third-floor space.
DeGrazia also pointed out that a full catering kitchen is being installed on the third floor, allowing for special events. Owners plan to rent out that space, which offers stellar views of downtown Prescott and Thumb Butte, for events such as weddings, conferences, and reunions.
DeGrazia said the third-floor space would be split into three separate areas, accommodating smaller groups, as well as large groups. Altogether, he said, the three spaces could handle a total of about 200 people.
Even higher up in the building, other workers were applying new shingles and PVC membrane material to a portion of the building's roof.
And, on the street level, work was under way on three retail spaces that will be available for lease. (The restored first-floor theater continues to operate and is not a part of the ongoing renovation project).
DeGrazia said one of the street-level spaces is being prepared for use by a barbershop, while the two other spaces are still available.
The current project is just the latest in a number of phases of restoration that have been underway at the Elks since about 2009/2010, when the City of Prescott oversaw a $1.75 million restoration of the theater space. That project was paid for largely through private donations and fundraising.
Then, soon after the city sold the building to the new owners in 2012, an extensive project got underway to restore the deteriorating brick exterior - a $1.8 million job that wrapped up in the spring of 2014.
The contract for the second phase was awarded this past April, and crews with contractor Haley Construction Co. mobilized by about May 1.
Earlier in the second phase, the project centered on shoring up the building's support system, and dealing with the aging plumbing and electrical systems.
At that time, Haley's project manager Allan Crary pointed out that numerous remodeling jobs had taken place at the Elks over the past century, leaving abandoned pipes and crumbling waste lines.
Haley's work included removing the old abandoned pipes, and Crary said, "Once the new project is complete, the only things in the building will be things that work."
Still to come in the current phase is the installation of the new elevator - a system that DeGrazia said will be "machine-room-less."
In addition, he said, new mechanical units will soon be installed on the roof. That process will require use of a crane.
DeGrazia emphasized that the renovation is bringing a heightened degree of energy efficiency to the building. Insulation has been added in many areas, and the heating and cooling system's SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio) rating will be improved.
The renovation project is being funded by the non-profit Elks Theatre Performing Arts Center. DeGrazia said the organization is in the process of hiring a manager for the center.
Follow Cindy Barks on Twitter @Cindy_Barks. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2034, or 928-642-0951.