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Agency Seeks Cost For Demolition
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Offered several options for repairing the Del Rio Theater building so it can be reoccupied as a performing arts center, the Riverbank Redevelopment Agency on April 13 directed staff to obtain cost estimates for both partial and complete demolition.

The partial demolition would cover the southern part of the building commonly known as the Bingo Hall and include constructing a new exterior south wall for the restaurant and Suite A.

On the same night, arts groups such as Riverbank Community Theatre (RCT) made a brief slide presentation illustrating the success of recent shows such as "Oklahoma" and "Miracle on 34th Street" in drawing several thousand patrons to the downtown. If the Suite A section can be saved from demolition, RCT representatives offered to lease it to put on shows in a smaller theater seating about 100 people.

Noting the building is currently rated unsafe for occupancy, Economic Development & Housing Director Tim Ogden said the Agency needs about $1 million to correct structural problems and has only $400,000.

He offered four options: keep the building closed until more redevelopment funding is available; launch another bond; demolish the south part of the building where the structural problems lie and replace it with an inexpensive, prefabricated building; or demolish the whole structure and rebuild.

A recent report by structural engineers Buehler and Buehler found split and failing roof trusses in the southern part of the building (the auditorium or Bingo Hall), dry rot in some framing, water damage and mold and estimated repairs at more than $1 million.

The Redevelopment Agency bought the 1940s building in 2007 for $1.7 million and set aside $1 million for rehabilitation as a performing arts center and anchor for downtown revitalization.