Once forsaken Clyde Theatre begins revamp

July 28, 2017 GMT

With the chime of a bell, renovations on Fort Wayne’s Clyde Theatre officially began Thursday.

Venue owner Rick Kinney, president of Even Keel Productions, broke ground on the 500.

“I really appreciate the support, this is going to be great when it’s all done. It’s going to do great things for the south side of Fort Wayne, it’s going to do great things for the city as a whole,” Kinney said. “I want to see something amazing that outlives all of us.”

Although it’s taken years to get work started, Kinney’s vision for the Clyde was bolstered through various partnerships and donations, including 1 million grant from the Regional Cities Initiative and a $1 million loan from Fort Wayne’s Legacy Fund. A tax increment financing district was also created for the theater and the adjoining Quimby Village shopping center, which will be used to collect the funds necessary to repay the Legacy Fund loan.

The endeavor also had the support of Mayor Tom Henry, who said Thursday he has fond memories of visiting the Clyde Theatre balcony when he was younger. Projects like the Clyde Theatre renovation, Henry said, are an example of Fort Wayne’s potential.

“We’ve worked extremely hard over the past decade or so to try to make Fort Wayne a point of destination,” Henry said. “We compete with cities much, much bigger than us and I think we’re doing OK. I think that we are telling the cities throughout the Midwest that Fort Wayne is a city to contend with.”

Once complete, the development will feature a multifunctional, 2,200-capacity performing arts and special event center. The 10,400-square-foot lobby will act as an art gallery focused on sculpture, object, glass and functional art. Plans also call for the addition of a dressing room and performers’ lounge adjacent to the stage.

City Councilman Geoff Paddock, D-5th, said Kinney was the first person to contact him when he first took office in Jan. 2012 to tell him about his vision for the dilapidated theater. The redevelopment represents the revitalization of an anchor in south Fort Wayne, Paddock said.

“I am just very pleased and very honored to have been a part of that,” Paddock said. “I think with projects like this we are getting our energy back, particularly the energy on the south side of Fort Wayne that we saw kind of drifting away over the last few years.”

The project is expected to be complete by summer 2018.