Town Approves $235,000 Contract for Interior Restoration Design at The Playhouse 


Town officials last week approved an approximately $235,000 contract with a local company for design services for the interior restoration of The Playhouse on Elm Street.

The Board of Selectmen at its July 12 meeting voted unanimously in favor of the contract with Architectural Preservation Studio, DPC, which has offices in New Canaan and New York City.

The work will involve “investigation, architectural design and administrative services to renovate and restore the interior” of the 1923-built movie theater on Elm Street, Public Works Director Tiger Mann told the selectmen at their meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference. 

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. Following two public hearings, the Town Council on June 29 voted unanimously in favor of a lease agreement with Playhouse Lab LLC, a newly formed company whose principal is listed in state records as Montclair-based Cinema Lab Topco, LLC. 

The town has allocated $600,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds toward the Playhouse, and is allocating another $1 million in bonded funds toward capital upgrades at the Elm Street building. Additionally, the town has has built up about $800,000 in a separate fund through collecting rent from tenants at the prominent brick building. 

Architectural Preservation Studio has been “an excellent partner while we’ve been working through the entire process with Cinema Lab,” Mann said.

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the contract. 

Williams asked about the timing of the planned work. Mann estimated that it would take about three to six months to get the physical work out to bid, and then another six months to do the work, putting the finish at June 1, 2023 at best.

Moynihan said the town was still shooting for an April 1, 2023 date, if the RFP is out and a contractor hired in October. 

“It’s a great project,” Williams said.

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