Historic building will serve as entertainment, meeting venue
By Alyssa Mammano
Construction is under way on the historic Kallet Theater in the village of Pulaski, and the $1 million project is tentatively slated to conclude by May 1, 2013, according to project coordinator John Paraschos.
Vince Lobdell and son, Vince Jr., of V-Squared Management, LLC have undertaken the project with the administration of Paraschos and assistance of Kip Balcom, owner of Balcom Building and Masonry LLC.
“The theater has always been the cornerstone, and it’s been depressed now for quite a while. There haven’t been movies in it for 25-30 years. So the goal was to bring it back to its original structure and to provide movies, orchestra, comedy, events and weddings,” said Lobdell Jr.
The facility will feature 430 theater-style folding chairs on a tiered angle to face a stage with a screen and projector. The set-up will enable the showing of movies, but can also be used for group presentations or live performances.
The tiers can also be pushed back much like bleachers to make room for company meetings or events such as wedding receptions or banquets, said Paraschos.
Thus far, Balcom Building and Masonry has brought the main floor up six feet to level it with the entrance to the theater. The walls were reinforced with concrete and the skeleton of an outdoor back deck has been established.
“Kip has gone through and added doors where we need them for code and for our purposes, fixed gaps and cracks and essentially core filled, and put concrete down the center of the cinder blocks. So we don’t have to worry about the wall falling into the river anymore. We know that the structure is sound. This is probably going to be one of the soundest structures around by the time we’re done filling and fixing it,” Paraschos said.
Further construction will restore the entrance and lobby areas, as well as the barrel staircases leading up to the second floor loft. A microbar will appear on the second floor outside of an enclosed conference room. The loft overlooks the majority of the theater and stage.
The loft as well as the main entrance and lobby area will have glass tile windows to give a bright feel to the rooms, said Paraschos. The lobby will also include a concessions area in the style of an old-school theater, he said.
Radiant heat will be built into the floor, and Paraschos is looking at state-of-the-art lighting and projection for the stage and video screen, he said.
“Everything is going to be top notch,” Balcom said.
“The structure was available for some time. You cannot over-emphasize Vince Sr.’s commitment to the community. He’s owned and renovated a number of properties. He’s very committed to Pulaski,” Paraschos said.
Undertaking this project is a contribution to the historic restoration, community development and downtown revitalization projects under way in Pulaski.
Grants for the project provided by NYS Restore, Main Street grants through the Empire State Development Corp. and loans from the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council and County of Oswego Industrial Development Agency totaled about $780,000.
“We’ve put a little north of $200,000 so far. You acquire the structure, you have to have architects and engineers and permitting and environmental. It’s an old building, so you have to do asbestos remediation. When you get into all of these things, I’d say our total spend right now is close to $250,000, maybe more,” Paraschos said.
Before the Lobdells and their team took on the project, the theater was an eyesore and one of the first buildings people saw entering Pulaski and driving down Main Street, said Paraschos.
The front of the theater was dilapidated and boarded up.
“It’ll bring back a lot of the grandeur and beauty of Pulaski. The hope is not to have this be one gem, but ultimately then other people will have storefronts here. We’ll have events here which will bring up to 450 people into town,” Paraschos added.
The facility will provide a large space for a few hundred people to gather, something that does not exist in Pulaski, according to Paraschos and Balcom.
“It’ll be a great asset to have a movie theater, somewhere to have events so you don’t have to go to Syracuse or Oswego or Watertown. You’re halfway between everyone,” Balcom said.
Myron J. Kallet built The Kallet Theater in 1935 on the site of the former Temple Theater, which burned down in early 1934. In 1938, architect Milo Folley remodeled the theater in an Art Deco style. The theater closed around 30 years ago.
Since then, the theater has gone through an iteration of existences, said Paraschos. It has been used as a yoga studio, an auto parts store, and as a storage warehouse by the Lobdells’ other businesses.
When done, the project will create two full-time and four part-time jobs.