By MAX FILBY
After a harsh winter, construction on the $10 million Marathon Center for the Performing Arts will start in May instead of March.
“We can’t dig into the ground when it’s still frozen,” said Edward Reading, chairman of the board of the new arts center.
The center will host a groundbreaking celebration sometime in April to kick things off, he said. Despite the delay in construction, Reading said the arts center will still be able to open in the fall of 2015.
“We think we’re still on track,” Reading said. “We’re right about where we wanted to be at this point.”
While the outside design has been set for months, architects are still working with Reading and others to finalize the interior designs. Reading said it continues to evolve every few weeks and months.
“They’re still sort of being developed right now,” he said. “No renderings yet, but we do have a floor plan figured out.”
The center will be built on the former site of Central Middle School along West Main Cross Street, and will incorporate the auditorium from the school.
The Marathon Center for the Performing Arts is on track to be one of the largest facilities in the area, with about 1,000 seats in the auditorium, Reading said.
The center will host touring performances that were too large for the original Central auditorium, said Katherine Kreuchauf, a board member. The new center will have a full back stage, including fly space above and wings beside the stage.
The fly space will harbor scenery on frames and cables, lighting, and rigging to raise and lower the lighting. The stage’s wings will allow for more room to quickly move performers on and off stage, Kreuchauf said.
The center will also include classrooms, areas for performers to rehearse, an art gallery and a black box theater.
The new arts center is being designed by RCM Architects of Findlay, headed by W. Jerry Murray, Kreuchauf said. Murray has been a longtime supporter of the project.
The project began with the demolition of most of Central Middle School in 2013. Findlay City Schools sold the property for $1 to help with the project. In return, Findlay City Schools will be permitted to host a number of performances for free in the new facility, once it is completed.
The new arts center will cost $10 million to build. Marathon Petroleum Corp. made a large, but unspecified, contribution in November.
“Their contribution was outstanding,” Reading said. “We’re so lucky to have them here in Findlay.”
Marathon Chief Executive Officer Gary Heminger and his wife, Jane, are co-chairs of the fundraising committee for the arts center.
“This performing arts center is critical to the growth and prosperity of this community,” Heminger said.
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