Wednesday, 27 January 2016 16:16

DeLuxe again: $5.7 million project restores historic theater

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

The Fifth Ward's 75-year-old DeLuxe Theater finds new purpose as a community, education, event and performance space.

 

Where there would normally be mid-morning traffic, more than 100 people milled around in the 3300 block of Lyons Avenue on Dec. 14 admiring the gleaming facade of the old theater.

This area once was a heartbeat of Houston’s Fifth Ward. After years of seeming stagnation and transition, it pulses with activity once again. Businesses are opening. Traffic is picking up. And at the center of it all is a fresh monument to the possibility of civic renewal: the DeLuxe Theater.

The DeLuxe opened in 1941 and for decades was more than just a movie house; it was an essential and popular neighborhood gathering place, an entertainment venue, a social hub where friends and neighbors collected, where a kid stole his first kiss. The theater then went into decline and nearly collapsed in on itself from neglect and disuse.

The Dec. 14 ribbon-cutting made it official: the DeLuxe is back in a big way. Instead of allowing the decaying building to be demolished, neighborhood supporters who saw the old building with historical perspective and understood its importance and place within the fabric of the community would not stand for its demolition.

A coalition of partners formed and a mix of grant and public funds gave rise to a reconstruction/resurrection project. More than $5.5 million went into it; what came out was a 5th Ward jewel, a LEED-certified facility that retained historical features of the old structure but resulted in a new space for a re-energized neighborhood.

Instead of focusing on movies, the DeLuxe now features a state-of-the art performance auditorium. The adjoining 3,000-square-foot community hall for special events and programs will host educational programming and performances, arts programs, events and workshops sponsored by two of the major partners in the redevelopment project, Texas Southern University and the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation.

Alvin Colquitt 
 Alvin Colquitt

Alvin Colquitt said he understands the significance the project. He is Fifth Ward through and through, and remembers growing up in the area when Lyons Avenue popped with energy.

“Growing up here in the Fifth Ward, we had the opportunity to see all the stars: Bobby Blue Bland, B.B. King, Little Richard (across the street at the old Club Matinee, no longer there),” he said.

The DeLuxe’s importance was magnified in the era of segregation.

“We had the DeLuxe when we didn’t have anything else,” Colquitt said. “We used to get in for a quarter. Yeah, this was the spot.

“This is the third time the DeLuxe has had a renaissance. It’s great to see community involvement. We wouldn’t miss (the new opening) for anything,” he said.

With the TSU Jazz Combo swinging before and after the ceremony, residents and civic leaders crowded the space in front of the theater to celebrate. Then-Mayor Annise Parker praised the accomplishment as a major step in renewing the neighborhood just a stone’s throw from downtown. U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, HCDD Director Neal Rackleff, and Dist. B City Councilman Jerry Davis also spoke of the enormous impact.

But the Rev. Harvey Clemons Jr., of Pleasant Hill Ministries and chairman of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) 18, has a long personal history with the DeLuxe. In a way, Clemons has come full circle with it: as a youth he saw it in its vibrant heyday, admitting to getting his first kiss there, then witnessed its decline, and finally as founder of the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Center and chairman of TIRZ 18 witnessed its resurrection.

Clemons said he hopes the theater will draw diverse crowds to its multi-faceted programming.

It’s off to a good start.

 

2DeLuxe0348
1DeLuxe0073
DeLuxe0017
DeLuxe0046
DeLuxe0070
DeLuxe0073
DeLuxe0077
DeLuxe0107
DeLuxe0113
DeLuxe0115
DeLuxe0137
DeLuxe0141
DeLuxe0147
DeLuxe0148
DeLuxe0193
DeLuxe0225
DeLuxe0231
DeLuxe0240
DeLuxe0340
DeLuxe0348
DeLuxe0351
DeLuxe0355
DeLuxe0375
DeLuxe0593
DeLuxe0598
DeLuxe0662
DeLuxe0681
2DeLuxe0348 1DeLuxe0073 DeLuxe0017 DeLuxe0046 DeLuxe0070 DeLuxe0073 DeLuxe0077 DeLuxe0107 DeLuxe0113 DeLuxe0115 DeLuxe0137 DeLuxe0141 DeLuxe0147 DeLuxe0148 DeLuxe0193 DeLuxe0225 DeLuxe0231 DeLuxe0240 DeLuxe0340 DeLuxe0348 DeLuxe0351 DeLuxe0355 DeLuxe0375 DeLuxe0593 DeLuxe0598 DeLuxe0662 DeLuxe0681

Read 2053 times

 

ABOUT THE DELUXE THEATER

The DeLuxe Theater
3303 Lyons Ave.
Houston, Texas  77020
Council District B

DELUXE FACTS

  • Total building square feet — 11,500
  • Performing arts theater — 8,500 square feet
  • Seating capacity — 125
  • Two full chorus rooms
  • Box office and concessions
  • Community Hall for artistic and special events — 3,000 square feet
  • Texas Southern University will conduct educational programming and performances beginning in the spring of 2016.
  • Community arts programming, events and workshops will be coordinated by the 5th Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation.

THE COST

  • Total project cost — $5.7 million
  • Performing arts theater cost — $5.49 million
  • HCDD — $5.24 million in Community Development Block Grant funds
  • 5th Ward TIRZ — $250,000
  • Community Hall cost — $216,203
  • 5th Ward TIRZ — $146,203
  • Council District B — $70,000

THE PARTNERS

  • City of Houston (funding)
  • City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department (funding)
  • City of Houston General Services Department (project management)
  • 5th Ward Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ)
  • 5th Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation (coordination and programming)
  • Texas Southern University (programming)

Follow us on:

icon facebookicon twittericon youtube