Due primarily to the unexpected expense of a new HVAC system, the widely anticipated renovation of the town-owned movie theater on Elm Street is now projected to cost about $7.9 million, more than twice the initial budget of $3.9 million, officials say. The town originally anticipated re-using the existing HVAC system in the Playhouse, and budgeted about $400,000 for that part of the project, but due to new Code requirements and the need for better air circulation, the cost has risen by nearly $2 million, to $2.3 million, according to Department of Public Works officials. In addition, the town and its contractors found, after starting the interior demolition of the 1923-built Playhouse, that more structural work was needed than they’d anticipated, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday. “We noticed that during previous work in the building they actually did some damage to the structure itself, taking out some bearing items, some of the girders are separating, some of the areas that needed to be replaced were refashioned,” Mann said during the selectmen’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.
“So the structural engineers mentioned things that we’ve got to do on the structural side to make the building whole again. And then, given the fact of, after the eight separate design iterations that we went through to try and fit everything into the building and make it compliant with current standards and make it accessible throughout.