The future of the Wright Opera House will be the focus of community tours and discussions during March. These are not "historic tours," they are information and discussion about the process of attempting to purchase the building. Thus far, preparation by the Friends of the Ouray Wright Opera House includes creating a non-profit organization to buy and operate the building, conducting appraisal and structural assessment, researching grant opportunities to assist with purchase, rehab and operation of the facility, and designation as an Enterprise Zone project by the State of Colorado Economic Development Department creating significant tax benefits for donors. They have also developed a long range plan for how the building can retain its historic significance while serving our 21st Century lifestyle and economy.
The tours are designed for the community to become as fully informed as possible about the status of this important potential project. The board--which includes Ralph Huesing as chair, Tom Kenning, Jim Opdahl, Nancy Nixon and Dee Williams-- will lead small group tours of the entire building, provide updates on the studies of the viability of the building, grant assistance available, potential uses for the future, and the enhancements possible over several years to reach the goal of eventually presenting one of the premier performance venues in the region.
The current owners would like to sell the building to a non-profit. The non-profit status makes grants available and tax benefits for donors. The asking price is $1million. The Friends of the Wright Opera House are currently applying for grants available for purchase of historic properties. They hope to receive grants and donations to enable purchase by the end of 2009.
The first floor of the building is currently fully rented for retail, restaurant, and office spaces, providing a revenue stream to help with operation expenses. The auditorium is heavily used by the Weehawken Dance Program and musical and theatrical performance events. The flat floor of the auditorium also makes it a venue for special occasions such as weddings.
More information about the history and the future of the Wright Opera House is available at www.savethewright.org.