UPDATE: Progress being made on renovation of historic Des Moines Theater


At top, a rendering of what the renovated Des Moines Theater will look like when completed. Below, the theater circa 1948.

If you’ve noticed construction work and busy workers around the historic Des Moines Theater on Marine View Drive downtown, it’s because progress is being made in its renovation.

The building – built in 1947 – originally was home to a 400 seat cinema, retail stores, and office spaces.

It is being fully renovated, and will include 18 residential units above and behind the theater.

Owners have received a height variance from the city council, allowing it to be the tallest building in Des Moines. The city is also working with Puget Sound Energy to underground the power behind the building, making the views completely unobstructed and at the same time creating a festival alley behind the building for special events.

The renovated building will also include a theater, coffee shop and yoga studio as anchor tenants.

An opening date has not yet been announced.

“Our team is determined to maintain this building’s charm, character and history while at the same time adding 18 residential units above and behind the theater,” Dan Spalding, Jefferson Angell & Ben Anderson said in a statement. “Each unit will have its own deck with stunning panoramic views of the Puget Sound and Mt Ranier, food access, high quality modern finishes and fixtures, as well as walkable access to the Marina, miles of trails, many restaurants and the Angel Lake light rail station.”

“It is our goal to return the theater to an operating movie theater as well as a performing arts center for live music, plays as well making it available for community and private events,” they added.

Here’s the latest on the current work being done from the theater’s website:

The renovation work is moving along at a good pace and we had a number of small milestones met over the past few weeks – despite the Snowpocalypse! Shoring up the building with new concrete walls and feet continues, section-by-section. But we’ve also been able to get the new sewer lines in place, start work on the electrical side of things, and install the grease interceptor in anticipation of having a restaurant on-site (photo below).

Along with a space that is fully open to the public, our vision is that the restaurant/kitchen could also serve the theater auditorium for certain shows. This is a set up similar to the Admiral Theatre in Bremerton, or The Triple Door in Seattle. More on that idea as we get further along in the process!

Now that the weather is getting nicer, we’ll be planning some fun community events that will give you a chance to see how things are going at the Theater and talk with the owners and the rest of our team.

The new sewer lines are in place, and work has begun on the electrical side of things too. Below, you can see where the electrical lines will be run under the theater floor, to provide power for both onstage outlets, and the light/sound booth at the back of the auditorium.

Even at these early stages, we are putting in elements that relate to some of the specific businesses we anticipate hosting on site. The grease interceptor is a necessity for having a restaurant in the building.

The fun, creative projects continue as well. Here you can see the license plate imprinting that Juan and Gabriel have been working on.

MISSION
The mission of The Des Moines Theater is to provide a home for the arts and gathering place for the community of Des Moines and South King County, through the presentation of events, development of education programs and maintenance of the performance spaces of the theater venue.

HISTORY
The Des Moines Cinema building was opened in March 1947 by Delbert and Wally Osterhoudt to house a 400 seat cinema, retail stores, and office spaces. Wally Osterhoudt served on the Des Moines City Council and was mayor from 1964-69. On the second floor Dr. Frank Underhill and Dr. Youker had offices. The building also housed Dee’s Mart, and the Des Moines Drugstore for awhile in the Northeast corner. The cinema over the years has changed hands and had been closed entirely. In 1973 the Theater was sold and changed from running family oriented films to showing “adult” movies. Local groups picketed the theater in the 1970s, and in the 1980s the city even took legal action. In the 1990s the theater reopened under new management and reverted to showing family oriented films and again is a community asset. It features 1940s decor, snack bar, a stage, and with second run movies affordable prices for the residents of Des Moines. The Cinema is a good place for old fashioned family entertainment and is conveniently situated on Marine View Drive walking distance from several dining establishments. One will notice that “Wild in the Country”, featuring Elvis Presley, and “Days of Thrills and Laughter” are playing at the old cinema. (information provided by the Des Moines Historical Society)

MORE INFORMATION:


Comments

6 Responses to “UPDATE: Progress being made on renovation of historic Des Moines Theater”
  1. JM says:

    As long as they keep that beautiful old sign, I’m on board! And a yoga studio in downtown DM? Dream of dreams!!

  2. Cynthia Jackson says:

    This should have been completed two years ago during Matt Pena’s tour of false promises as he sought re-election as Mayor.

    • Patrick Nardo says:

      Our mayor and the city council are not responsible for architectural modifications or renovations to local businesses. It is my understanding that the building was so far behind, code wise, that it may have cost the new owners more than they had anticipated. How much it will ultimately cost in dollars and time to complete, to the satisfaction out our permitting committee, will depend on the owner’s finances. The only responsibility our city leaders have here, is to present incentives for new business to be attracted to Des Moines. This, they seem to be doing well, but it is glaringly evident that we need more of what is being accomplished. It is sad to drive down Marine View Drive, seeing empty, neglected business fronts. Then slip on down to the Marina ,visit the new “Quarter Deck” for a “cool one”.

  3. John O'Leary says:

    So glad to see this finally happening. It will be a major improvement to the “downtown” strip. Perhaps this will inspire others to make an investment in the under developed hub of Des Moines.

  4. O'Leary says:

    4th floor need another setback

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