Holly getting ready to shine

    Randy Bobst-McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live, walks through the Holly Theatre on Tuesday. Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune

    After many fits and starts, major construction is beginning to transform the dilapidated Holly Theatre into a crown jewel in downtown Medford.

    At 1 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19, an official groundbreaking will commemorate the project at the corner of Holly and Sixth streets, featuring movie star and comedian Jim Belushi along with Mayor Gary Wheeler and Brad Hicks, president and CEO of the Chamber of Medford/Jackson County.

    The renovation is expected to be complete by the middle of 2020.

    Workers from Hamcon Builders of Eagle Point are concentrating on the front part of the building, including adding an elevator shaft to the 1930 building designed by renowned local architect Frank Clark.

    Like any project of this magnitude, the Holly’s transformation from a building saved from demolition 10 years ago into a state-of-the-art performing arts facility isn’t cheap.

    The theater’s fundraising goal is $9.4 million — more than double the original cost estimate — and supporters are still shy of that amount by $3.5 million. Donations can be made at www.hollytheatre.org or call 541-772-3797.

    Because of the recent federal shutdown, the historic tax credit helping to finance the project could be delayed, said Randy McKay, executive director of Jefferson Live!, which runs both the Holly and the Cascade Theatre in Redding. But McKay thinks construction should continue until the building is mostly completed.

    “I am targeting the second quarter of 2020, but we’ll see how the government financing portion — how long that takes. We hope to continue without too many pauses.”

    To remodel the front portion of the building, which includes the lobby and storefronts on the first floor, it will cost $2 million.

    “The money is in the bank for that part,” said McKay.

    In 2012, the Holly underwent a remodel of its facade, and then bits and pieces of the theater began to resurface, aiding in the effort to restore it to its former glory.

    The project was stalled when Jefferson Public Radio, which originally bought the property, got into a dispute with Southern Oregon University.

    Once the front portion of the building is finished, work will begin on the stage, the tower above the stage, dressing rooms, a loading dock and other rooms at the stage side of the building.

    The auditorium, which will have 1,020 seats and be the largest theater venue in Southern Oregon, will be tackled in the last phase, along with lighting, seats and other finishing touches.

    At Tuesday’s groundbreaking, the portion of Sixth Street in front of the theater will be closed.

    This is the third time the street has been closed in front of the Holly, including when the facade was completed in 2012, drawing large crowds from the around the valley.

    Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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