Historic Chief Theater to undergo major renovations
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The historic Chief Theater in downtown Steamboat Springs will undergo a major renovation in the coming year.
Kori McClurg and her husband, Barry Sherman, who own the building, are planning to create a community-centered arts and entertainment experience. Astute Brands, the operating company they own, has taken over management of the Chief and is spearheading the project.
“We’re heavy into the final stages of design, and we really are pushing for a schedule where the building can be open in the first quarter of 2022,” said Erik Dyce, who has been hired by McClurg and Sherman to lead the project. “We will embrace the entire community, and from my research, it looks like we have enough events to keep things going. I think it’s going to provide a really appropriately sized, niche venue for the community.”
Dyce said the owners are working with local architects William Rangitsch and Erica Hewitt from Steamboat Architectural Associates, as well as Semple Brown, a Denver design firm that specializes in performance art venues.
Dyce said Summit Shades and the space that housed All That will be absorbed into a larger lobby area. A green room will be added for performers, and there will also be a roof-top bar that Dyce expects will be popular.
“There’s an extensive renovation that needs to be done,” Dyce said. “There are some historic components, including murals that are somehow mysteriously hidden behind some walls. We are looking for those, and we’re looking for elements that we might uncover and can celebrate.”
Sherman is excited about the possibilities of a renovated Chief Theater.
“It’s early in the renovation as we’re in the planning stage, but our vision is solid. We are renovating the Chief so we can more fully support the arts and provide a flexible event and meeting space for Steamboat residents and tourists alike,” Sherman said. “Our family has a passion for the arts. Our children are musicians, and I’ve been a big fan of the Chief Theater from the first time I walked through the grand doors.”
For a decade, the historic downtown theater has been home to the Friends of the Chief, who were tenants. Scott Parker, who was hired as executive director of Friends of the Chief Foundation in 2013, said the foundation wishes the owners continued success.
Parker said the Friends of the Chief group is working with the Hayden Center to program children’s classes, live theater and music. He is also optimistic about potential partnership with Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp.
“We are looking at this as a great opportunity to expand our programming,” Parker said. “We are in the process of re-branding. The music that we produced is going to come with us — the live theater, the magic and the comedy. We’re going to continue to book those things — we are just going to do it in different venues.”
Board member Ben Spiegel said the Friends of the Chief foundation has always had a good relationship with the owners of the building, and he believes the foundation will be able to find new venues and pursue its mission of bringing arts to the community.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a dilemma between what we have available and working with everyone from Strings Music Festival to Perry Mansfield, from the Hayden Center to Steamboat Creates and the Steamboat Art Museum,” Spiegel said. “All these groups have different types of facilities that can house a huge variety of different things that we have been doing for such a long time.
“So the foundation is going to move forward, and I think by this time next year, we are going to have some really exciting news to share with the community of what we’ve been doing with our time and our plans for the future,” Spiegel continued. “There are only good things to come.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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