Thursday, June 3, 2004

Ready For Revitalization Of The Soo Theatre

From The Sault Evening News, 06/03/04

Ready for revitalization

By SCOTT BRAND/The Evening News

SAULT STE. MARIE -- With Governor Jennifer Granholm's announcement of funding for 20 Cool Cities pilot projects on Wednesday, the City of Sault Ste. Marie learned it has qualified for $100,000 in cold, hard cash. The money has been earmarked for renovation and revitalization of the Soo Theatre.

"The communities that won were the ones that maximized the attributes we spelled out," said Director David Hollister of the Department of Labor and Economic Growth in a telephone interview Wednesday regarding the long odds faced as 112 cities applied for 151 various grants. "The Sault had a great proposal."

Hollister expressed the belief that renovation of this historical building will stimulate other development in Sault Ste. Marie.

Director Lee Shirey of the Downtown Development Authority said he was very pleased with the governor's announcement. The $100,000 catalyst grant will not only provide immediate help for the theatre, but will allow the Sault to tap into a much larger pool of money for similar projects throughout the state.

"This now opens the door to $100 million in funding for cool cities," said Shirey.

The initial $100,000, according to the governor's announcement, will go toward updatating and renovating the classic and historic Soo Theatre Complex to its original grandeur of the 1930s. Shirey explained that will basically involve improvements on the retail fronts, heating, plumbing and electrical upgrades and the development of barrier-free restrooms.

Shirey envisioned the theatre becoming an arts and cultural complex catering to dance, arts and music training.

"That's great," said Mayor Anthony Bosbous in a happenstance meeting early this morning. "It's a good start."

"Building vibrant, energetic cities is essential to attracting jobs, people and opportunity to our state," said Granholm. "If Michigan is to be competitive in the 21st century economy, we have to attract new businesses and retain the highly educated, talented young people who are crucial to building and sustaining businesses in today's global marketplace. I'm thrilled about the potential of these projects and the positive impact they will have on their communities and the economic vitality of our state."

Sault Ste. Marie was one of only two Upper Peninsula cities to receive funds under this grant. Marquette received similar funding for a commons project designed to bring a refrigerated ice plaza, skating rink, warming house, non-motorized trail and fountain into its community. Other grant recipients include Alpena, Bay City, Detroit, Ferndale, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Port Huron, Portland, Saginaw, Saugatuck, Traverse City, Warren and Ypsilanti.

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