Updated: Thursday, 30 Oct 2008, 2:41 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 30 Oct 2008, 2:41 PM EDT
Derby (WTNH) - They started renovations on the Sterling Opera House in downtown
Derby years ago and then they stopped. They're back at it again,
but the future is still up in the air for the 19th century
The trouble with the future is that the developer who was going to take this 19th century theater into the 21st century is tied up in legal and financial problems. But the state-funded renovations that stopped years ago are going great now, and the hope is the grant money will keep coming.
Back in February of 2002, renovations started on the front of the building, and the renovation plans actually began 12 years ago.
Back when Derby's mayor was just a businessman, Anthony Staffieri was part of the group that got the grant money that's paid for all the renovations on the 119 year old building. He says it will bring people - and money - to downtown.
"It generates people to come into your city, come into the valley, look to spend money," Mayor Staffieri said.
"You're creating interest, you're creating revenue. It just would be a tremendous boom to the downtown, to the entire city and region," said Sheila O'Malley, Director of Derby Economic Development.
O'Malley secured a new grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and got Yale interested in planning the next phase of the restoration for the outside of the building.
"We're looking for their collaboration and their expertise, frankly. Just the fact that they're interested is great news for us," O'Malley said.
A developer called the Ellington Group was all set to turn the opera house into a Regional Arts Center, but the tough economic times have put a damper on that plan.
The hope is future grants will actually pay to refurbish the inside, but when that will happen, nobody knows.