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March 05, 2015 10:15 PM

The State Of The State Theatre

Sioux Falls, SD

Right now, the bright lights of the State Theatre in downtown Sioux Falls are limited to its welcoming marquee sign.

After 24 years in mothballs, the State Theatre will eventually open. Really.

"It's going to happen," said Stacy Newcomb-Weiland, president of the State Theatre Company's board of directors. "It's just a matter of time and commitment from the community, really signaling that they want it and that they're willing to help us get it done."

Newcomb-Weiland won't commit to a grand opening date, but says progress here is moving the project closer to a date.

"As soon as we have the donations, we can open the building," she said. "The architectural plans are done, the building is here, it's sound, it's ready, it's as they say 'shovel-ready' and the more people that get involved, the quicker it will get done."

People with a stake in the continued vibrancy and growth of downtown Sioux Falls are being patient.

"We understand when it's a historic preservation situation, things are going to come up along the way," said Brienne Maner, communications and membership director for Downtown Sioux Falls. "So we've kind of been resigned to the fact that we know this is going to take some time."

Chris Hanmer, chef and owner of C.H. Patisserie across the street, is also confident.

"It's going to open," Hanmer said. "There's great people backing it, there's great organizations backing it, and the thing is is that it just takes time."

"Everyone is incredibly eager to see it open because we know what an economic shot in the arm this is going to be for the community," Maner said. "Having a theatre, a movie theatre in downtown Sioux Falls really aligns with the goals that we've set for our 2025 downtown plan, and the fact that we want to be a year-round destination and having a movie theatre would just be incredible."

Hanmer envisions stores changing their schedules to adjust to the theatre's anticipated crowds. 

"I think that you're going to see more and more [business] open later and later downtown and I think the State will be a really good catalyst for that to happen," Hanmer said. "Once people are coming downtown for that, you're going to see a lot more of the business coming in the evenings."

Newcomb-Weiland guesses those crowds could reach 100,000 each year after the doors open. The State could also help fill vacant spots in downtown Sioux Falls. 

"Right now, downtown struggles to have enough stuff drawing people downtown, especially on Saturday and Sunday but also nights of the week," Newcomb-Weiland said. "It's getting better all the time, but the State Theatre is one of those just incredible things that you can add to this downtown scene, and it'll have a tremendous impact."

The theatre opened its doors in 1926 for live performances and films during the Roaring Twenties. By the 50's or 60's, its live performances were a thing of the past. And by 1991, the State Theatre itself was a thing of the past.

Newcomb-Weiland and the board of directors hope to transform the venue into living history.

"At this point, we have built the infrastructure for the State Theatre, we've secured its future," she said. "Now we are working toward the finish work which is, has some flexibility in it, but really ultimately we want to have a beautiful facility that is really done in a way that honors the history of this building so that means pretty high caliber stuff to put in here and make it look as good as it can look."

Showing movies will be the venue's first focus, but the board hopes to eventually feature live performances as well.

Eventually the scaffolding and dust will be replaced by movies presented with twenty-first century technology.  

"It served the community very well for many, many years, and it will again," Newcomb-Weiland said. "And the time has come for it to reopen, the downtown needs it and wants it, and it will really enhance the business community in downtown Sioux Falls."

 

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