City to convert historic theater

The City of Houston, Texas Southern University (TSU) and the Fifth Ward Redevelopment Authority (FWRD) have reached agreement on a plan to convert the abandoned historic Fifth Ward Deluxe Theater on Lyons Avenue into a performing arts theater, classrooms and space for future retail development. The project calls for 125 seats for theater patrons, parking for 45 vehicles, structural stabilization and restoration of the theater marquis fronting on Lyons Avenue.

“The Deluxe Theater has long been a fixture in the Fifth Ward,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “This agreement will give it a new lease on life. It shows that with some creativity and some willing partners, we can find productive uses for our historic buildings. Students and the community will have a new facility for the arts and our economy will enjoy the jobs created by the construction work.”

“The City of Houston and Fifth Ward community will have an institution that we can all be proud of,” said District B Houston Council Member Jarvis Johnson, who played an integral role in getting the agreement done. “This partnership will help revitalize the surrounding neighborhood and spur economic growth in the process. This is a proud day for the likes of Mickey Leland, Barbara Jordan and all the great Fifth Wardens that paved the way for this city.”

The City acquired the building in 2009 using Community Development Block Grant Funds. The restoration project will cost $3.7 million and be paid for through CDBG dollars and money from Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 18. TSU’s lease payments to the City will total $610,725 over five years. FWRD will pay an estimated $179,000 in rent over five years. Both TSU and FWRC will be allowed to offset their rent by offering the facility for use for community events.

“This project means a great deal to Texas Southern University,” stated TSU President Dr. John Rudley. “The Deluxe Theatre has a long and storied history of bringing quality and informative engagements to Houston. We look forward to this initiative and look forward to working with the City of Houston and the Fifth Ward Redevelopment Authority.”

The art deco Deluxe Theater opened its doors in the spring of 1941. The auditorium had one screen and 740 seats. The theater operated for 28 years until closing in 1969. From 1971 to 1973, it was used as an art gallery, first under the sponsorship of the Menil Foundation and later by Hope Development Inc. It has remained unoccupied since then.

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