By Kevin Collison
The renovation of the historic Boone Theater as an entertainment and media center in the heart of the 18th and Vine District took a big step forward recently with the approval a development agreement by the City Council.
The Council approved an agreement that gives the Vine St. Collaborative 60 days to finalize its plans for the old building at 1701 E. 18th St. The Collaborative has been pursuing its redevelopment plan for more than a year.
It opened in 1924 as the New Rialto Theater. The building was renamed the Boone Theater in 1929 to honor John Boone, a nationally-renowned, blind Black pianist and composer from Missouri who died in 1927.
Vine St. Collaborative is led by Shomari Benton, Tim Duggan and Jason Parson and has the support of influential community leaders including Tom McDonnell, former head of DST Systems, BNIM architects and the J.E. Dunn construction company.
Benton, Duggan and Parson also are developing the nearby 2000 Vine project, the renovation of the historic former City Water and Street Department buildings into offices, retail and a planned microbrewery.
Pat Jordan, who spearheaded the renovation of the historic Gem Theater in the 18th & Vine District 25 years ago, welcomed the Council’s decision.
She also operates Vine Street Studios, a media production studio that plans to utilize part of the Boone Theater space.
“I think the city has made the redevelopment of 18th and Vine a priority which is wonderful,” Jordan said.
“The Boone Theater is an integral part of the district. I’m thrilled the ownership team has taken this on and reached out to me on the reactivation of this building.”
Other tenants planned for the Boone are the Black Repertory Theater and an entertainment venue planned by Shawn Edwards of Fox 4 News that will feature dinner and movie events. Edwards is a respected film critic.
In approving the Boone Theater development agreement, the city released a statement praising Councilwoman Melissa Robinson for her work furthering the project. Her district includes the 18th & Vine area.
“Elevating City investments at 18th and Vine demonstrates equity in action,” Robinson said in a statement.
“It is strategically wise to remediate blight in historical neighborhoods with unparalleled tourism appeal. I look forward to partnering with the development team to restore the Boone Theater to a vibrant and enjoyable space for residents and visitors.”
Should the Vine Street Collaborative move forward, it will take about 18- to 24 months to complete the estimated $3 million redevelopment plan, Benton said.
Other major redevelopment projects in the works for the 18th & Vine area including the renovation of the historic Attucks School into an art gallery and studio space and the construction of a $25.6 million apartment building at 1900 Vine.
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