Selectmen Approve $175,000 Contract for Interior Demo Work at Playhouse


Inside the lobby of the shuttered Playhouse movie theater on Sept. 8, 2022. Credit: Michael Dinan

Town officials this month approved an approximately $175,000 contract with a Ridgefield-based firm for interior demolition and abatement at the movie theater on Elm Street.

The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 in favor of the $175,381 contract with Alden Bailey Restoration. 

“This will open up the area and allow the architects and the engineers to get in and take a deeper dive and look and then finalize the design and then come back with the interior fit-out for the Playhouse itself,” Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the selectmen at their Dec. 13 meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.

The town in November approved a $25,000 with the same firm for “design-build consulting services,” which requires Alden Bailey to work with the local architect Architectural Preservation Studios, as well as the engineer on the renovation project, to move more quickly through the design and bidding processes.

The selectmen asked whether the town had bid out the new contract (no, it follows from the design-build), whether the firm has expertise in restoration (yes), whether the work is in the budget for the Playhouse (yes and the town believes the overall project is coming in within budget), whether there’s an individual line item in the budget for the work (no) and what the interior demolition work involves (removing the balcony and projection room, which will house new ADA bathrooms and an elevator).

Buildings Superintendent Bill Oestmann said the work will cover “a good major part of the demolition phase on the theater envelope and the abatement stage.”

“Second to this would be the abatement of the basement, air handler, boiler, it’s going to come probably this spring once we start getting upstairs,” he said.

Shuttered at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and available to a new tenant since later that year, when Bow Tie Cinemas terminated its lease, the Playhouse is getting a new operator in Montclair, N.J. Cinema Lab. The town this year has approved a series of contracts to ready the Playhouse for reopening next year. According to a press release issued in November, The Playhouse is expected to reopen in the third quarter of 2023.

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