CROWN POINT — The new owner of the Crown Theater is kicking it up a notch as he invites the public to get involved in the restoration of the landmark building.
Brad Strom has established a kickstarter account, and is trying to raise $25,000 to restore the decaying theater at 19 N. Court St.
Kickstarter is described as the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. It is an American public-benefit corporation based in Brooklyn, New York, that maintains a global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity and merchandising, Strom said. The company's stated mission is to "help bring creative projects to life."
Strom said donors can sponsor a seat and have their names engraved in a plaque on the back of the seat, or they can buy tickets in advance to productions at the theater.
"This will help us determine if there is a want or need for the theater. We're hoping that people from throughout the area will show interest in the theater and seeing productions here, seeing movies and hosting events here," he said.
He has a 30-day deadline to raise the money. The period began Sept. 11 and will continue through Oct. 10.
"This way we can determine the level of interest. If people are willing to support it through Kickstarter, that's great. If not, we will continue with our plans to support and invest in this project," Strom said.
Strom announced in May he had bought the Crown Theater, which had operated as an independent movie house from about 1926 until it closed five years ago. He plans to turn it into a comedy club, small concert venue, movie theater and live theater venue for performances and children's shows.
"Every intention we have is to preserve the brick and bring it back to the true, traditional facade. It will require a lot of work to get it into the historical condition we want it to have," Strom said.
Strom plans to convert from the bulky reel-to-reel film equipment to digital projection.
Seats have been torn out of the rear of the theater where Strom plans to build a balcony or raised platform for seating as well as a VIP area. He said restrooms will be in the front on the south side of the building and a concession stand will be constructed on the north side of the building.
Strom said the restoration and purchase of the building represents an investment in excess of $500,000.
Crown Point Planning Administrator Anthony Schlueter said Strom is planning a full restoration inside and out to bring the building back to its original design.
He said the city's Redevelopment Commission has granted Strom a $40,000 grant as long as he abides by the Historic Preservation's review and decision.
"It's been granted, but he will still need to get their approval once the restoration is complete," Schlueter said.