Derby (WTNH) - They started renovations on the Sterling Opera House in downtownDerby years ago and then they stopped. They're back at it again,but the future is still up in the air for the 19th centuryperformance hall.
The trouble with the future is that the developer who wasgoing to take this 19th century theater into the 21st century istied up in legal and financial problems. But the state-fundedrenovations that stopped years ago are going great now, and thehope is the grant money will keep coming.
Back in February of 2002, renovations started on the front ofthe building, and the renovation plans actually began 12 years ago.
Back when Derby's mayor was just a businessman, AnthonyStaffieri was part of the group that got the grant money that'spaid for all the renovations on the 119 year old building. He saysit will bring people - and money - to downtown.
"It generates people to come into your city, come into thevalley, look to spend money," Mayor Staffieri said.
"You're creating interest, you're creating revenue. It justwould be a tremendous boom to the downtown, to the entire city andregion," said Sheila O'Malley, Director of Derby EconomicDevelopment.
O'Malley secured a new grant from the Connecticut Trust forHistoric Preservation and got Yale interested in planning the nextphase 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 forus," O'Malley said.
A developer called the Ellington Group was all set to turnthe opera house into a Regional Arts Center, but the tough economictimes have put a damper on that plan.
The hope is future grants will actually pay to refurbish theinside, but when that will happen, nobody knows.
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