New fundraising effort for Lincoln Theater restoration begins

New fundraising effort for Lincoln Theater restoration begins
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POSTED: Friday, May 24, 2013 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Friday, May 24, 2013 - 10:05am

 A "Restore the Lincoln" fundraising campaign kickoff reception is being held Friday, May 24 at the American legion Post #505 on Eddie Robinson at 6:00 p.m.

Attendees of the event will be shown plans for the first two phases of the restoration and asked to lend their support, and backing of the project.

The first phase includes readying the property for a full renovation and making it environmentally safe, which means removing lead piping and paint, asbestos and mold. The second phase would restore the theater, which was built in 1950 and served as the premiere entertainment venue in Old South Baton Rouge.

"We're asking the public and the corporate community to step up and help, with a target of about $500,000 for the first two phases," says Brenda Perry Dunn, founder of both the Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame and Lincoln Theater Foundation Board.

Funds for the first phase, which is estimated to cost around $190,000, have essentially already been secured with a grant that the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority helped obtain. The grant funds come from the South Louisiana Brownsfields Coalition Revolving Loan Fund, administered through the South Central Planning and Development Commission. Dunn says she's just waiting on the Environmental Protection Agency to sign off on the remediation plans to begin phase one of the work.

The second phase is estimated to cost $1 million, Dunn says, with grants, capital outlay funds from the state, and tax credits expected to help pay for what the public and private sector cannot. "This would bring the Lincoln Theater back to how it originally looked and make it operable," Dunn says. 

And then there's the third—and by far the most ambitious—phase of the project, which would see the property expanded for the two-story Louisiana Black History Hall of Fame Museum. This portion of the project is estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million, she says.

Though Dunn had hoped to raise $2.5 million to provide matching funds for grants in 2011 and last year to fully renovate the theater, she fell short of that goal. Since then, however, new team members have joined the foundation board, she says: team members who she believes will help her reach their fundraising goals this time around.

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