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BE theater group continues search

By Staff | Aug 31, 2009

This lot at Main and Seventh in Blue Earth could be a possible site for a movie theater.

Although a group interested in building a movie theater in Blue Earth has been dealt a setback, they aren’t about to abandon the idea.

When the Blue Earth City Council decided to sell the vacant lot at Fifth and Main Street to the owners of Southern Jack’s Bar and Grill, that meant the Blue Earth Theater Foundation had to start looking for another site.

The non-profit group was among four parties submitting a bid.

John McDonald, a member of the group, says they’ve wasted little time in beginning their search.

“We haven’t given up hope. It’s a good project for the city and area,” says McDonald. “We still have a couple of irons in the fire.”

Two locations on their list might include the MainStreet corner lots at Sixth and Seventh streets.

City Administrator Kathy Bailey says the city owns the parcels.

She says no one has expressed any interest in the two properties and no selling price has been determined.

“We’d certainly be interested in trying to do something. Any activity on Main Street certainly would be good for businesses,” Bailey adds.

Dennis Zitnak, chairman of the city’s Economic Development Authority, says the board remains “very, very supportive of the theater group’s efforts.”

In its recommendation to the council to sell the lot to Southern Jack’s, EDA members felt doing so would help an existing business expand, put the property back on the tax rolls and address complaints involving bar patrons.

“We hope this does not hinder the theater group’s enthusiasm or deter them in their efforts,” says Zitnak.

McDonald says when the foundation’s 12 members meet in September they’ll likely discuss what their next move will be.

“At this point everything is on the table. We’re not just looking at downtown,” he says.

The non-profit corporation is still in the process of trying to attain tax-exempt status. Doing so would help in qualifying for grants.

To obtain federal aid, the theater would need to be a multi-arts facility — that would include an art gallery and allow live-performances.

Foundation members would like to see a theater like one built in Lake Mills, Iowa, for $450,000. They envision an old-style building with a neon marquee and seating capacity of 200 to 300.