MEDFORD, Ore. — Gathering before the marquee of the historic Holly Theatre in Medford, members of the Rogue Valley community gathered on Tuesday to celebrate a groundbreaking — marking the beginning of reconstruction efforts on the grand old building.
Hosting the event was star of stage and screen (and increasingly a staple of the local community), comedian Jim Belushi. Alongside Belushi were Medford Mayor Gary Wheeler and Chamber of Commerce President Brad Hicks.
“The construction fence is up, crews are working on excavation, demolition and site preparation,” said Holly Theatre Executive Director Randy McKay. “The contractors descend in earnest in the coming few days.”
In fact, construction had to be held at bay for the groundbreaking ceremony to commence at all. The first phase of construction is intended to focus on the lobbies and front of house areas and offices, allowing the project’s management team to move into the Holly while the rest of the building is still being completed.
This phase is supposed to cost $2 million out of the project's $9.4 million budget. Organizers of the project said that historic tax credits, private loans, and cash raised from the community will help to fund the later phases — but the Theatre will need a raise total of about $3.5 million more to completely finish the project.
McKay has said Belushi was instrumental to the fundraising effort. Plus, McKay added in an email that HamCon Builders, the construction company, is not charging its normal fee. As part of the community's rally to show its support, it's offering about a 63 percent reduction in price.
A media and fundraising push is planned for this spring, organizers said, with "seat sponsorships" of less than $14 per month making up the tip of the spear.
According to a statement from McKay, the Holly Theatre will be the largest indoor event space in the area once it is completed.
"At 1,020 seats it will be roughly 40 percent larger than any venue between Eugene and Redding and allow for year-round major concerts and community events," McKay said.
To hear more about Belushi's habit of giving to his community, watch the video above.
To donate to the Holly Theatre, CLICK HERE.