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Complaints against Crown Theatre continue to mount as grand opening remains unknown
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Complaints against Crown Theatre continue to mount as grand opening remains unknown

Crown Theatre today

The 102-year-old Crown Theatre located in downtown Crown Point is shown. The theater was set to reopen in August 2019, but it remains closed.

CROWN POINT — The doors remain shut and construction paper still covers the windows of the historic Crown Theatre. 

In July, Brad Strom, who has led renovations at the theater, announced the grand opening of the 102-year-old theater was pushed back, and didn't say when its doors would open. 

In the months following the announcement, various shows at the theater were canceled or rescheduled, leaving ticket holders with questions and waiting for refunds. 

Today, patrons are still waiting for refunds they were promised months ago and complaints filed with the Indiana attorney general's office are mounting. 

As of Tuesday, 16 complaints had been filed against Crown Theatre for a failure to refund, according to records obtained by The Times. 

Documents show the first complaint was filed in October. 

Since filing her complaint, Lisa Carpenter hasn't heard back from the attorney general's office — besides the initial acknowledgment of her complaint — nor has she received a refund. 

Carpenter purchased three tickets in April to see Dueling Pianos. The tickets were a farewell present for her son, who would attend Johns Hopkins in Maryland later that year.

Carpenter chose to file a complaint after being promised a refund on various occasions, she previously told The Times.

The complaint process could take anywhere from two to six months, depending on "the nature of the correspondence and progress between the parties," said Melissa Gustafson, public information officer for the attorney general's office. 

During the process, the office acts as a neutral party to help the consumer and defendant find a solution. 

However, if the case isn't resolved through mediation, it could result in a potential lawsuit on behalf of the state, Gustafson said. 

Like Carpenter, Karen Douthett is still waiting for a refund for two shows and a seat sponsorship, totaling around $500. 

She, too, has filed a complaint with the attorney general's office. 

"It makes us pretty angry because we put our trust in him, and we wanted to back his project with the seat memberships," Douthett previously said.

Mike Walker, Leah Crim, Laura Keaton, Renea Pozzi Otis and Clare Gertsch also are still awaiting on refunds for tickets they purchased months ago. 

On Jan. 28, Strom, who doesn't own the theater, told The Times the theater has dealt with everything. 

"Some of the purchases go back to shows that were planned in April, May, where they weren't able to go back the traditional route so we had to go back," Strom said. "We can confidently say that every refund that's been requested will be completed in the next, I think it's two weeks, but it could be three." 

Attempts to reach Strom for an interview by phone and text message have been unsuccessful. When a Times reporter noticed the lights were on at the theater on Jan. 27, they knocked but no one answered. 

Currently, the theater is owned by TSA Properties LLC, where Crown Point’s assistant city attorney, Alexander Kutanovski, is listed as the registered agent and member. 

Kutanovski has previously said he doesn't own the building, rather his law firm represents TSA Properties. The LLC, he said, doesn't operate the theater, which has been under contract for sale, "for some time," he added. 

The LLC's ownership of other buildings on the square, including 112 N. Main St. and 103 N. Main St., according to data from Lake County's geographic information system, has left some questioning why the LLC hasn't stepped in. 

"I'm just surprised there's nothing going on, considering they're buying other things on the square," Keaton said. 

Kutanovski told The Times on Friday his client has "no desire to comment on the inner workings of its business operations." 

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail 

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South Lake County Reporter

Mary Freda is the South Lake County reporter at The Times. She is a proud Ball State graduate, where she studied news journalism and Spanish. You can reach Mary at mary.freda@nwi.com or 219-853-2563.

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