Detroit Lakes' Historic Holmes Theatre is about to get a new lobby, with the bulk of the renovations slated to be completed by Dec. 1.
Bids on the project were opened Tuesday, Oct. 13, with the contract going to the low bidder, T.F. Powers Construction of Fargo, at an overall cost of $342,700. The bid package included a base bid of $331,900, plus one $10,800 alternate for additional brick work that may or may not be necessary once an interior wall covering is removed.
The renovations are slated to begin Monday, Oct. 19. The bulk of the project will be funded through a $290,000 CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act grant from Becker County, which was approved last month. The terms of the federally-funded grant require that the project be directly related to COVID-19 safety improvements, and that the funds must be used up no later than Dec. 1.
Though some renovation of the theater lobby was always going to be needed to accommodate construction of the new, adjacent county museum, recent changes to theater operations required under state-mandated pandemic safety regulations necessitated a considerable expansion to those plans.
"Social distancing requires people to be able to spread out more when entering and exiting the theater," explained Holmes Theatre Executive Director Amy Stoller Stearns, noting that the theater's current layout is a bit cramped for accommodating those requirements.
For this reason, the boards of the Becker County Historical Society (which operates the museum) and the Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center (the theater is part of the overall DLCCC complex) decided to apply for a $290,000 CARES grant from the county to assist with funding the project. The county board approved the application last month.
New plans were drawn up by the project's main architects, YHR Partners, and the bid opening set for Tuesday afternoon at the museum's current home on Summit Avenue (across the parking lot from the theater). Construction of the new $6.4 million museum building — which was pushed back by the pandemic — is slated to begin next spring.
In addition to a new main staircase, the theater renovations will also include construction of a second floor balcony that looks out over the lobby. When the new museum is completed, that balcony will become the walkway that leads to the museum's main entrance. The current ticket booth is slated to be removed and relocated as well.