Architect helps city refine vision for Texan

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Most of the recent work in the Texan Theater’s been undertaken in-house at Kilgore City Hall – at this point in the revitalization, however, local officials are bringing in some outside expert advice.

Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck joined Special Services Director B.J. Owen and Fire Marshal Brandon Bigos Friday morning to take Tyler architect Mike Butler on a tour of the under-construction venue on South Kilgore Street.

Butler helped complete a similar project in Tyler, Selleck noted, providing designs for the revitalization of Liberty Hall on the square.

In Kilgore’s Texan, “Up to this point we’ve been working with the building as it is,” Selleck said. “To move forward with structural changes, we need someone to develop as-built drawings – the dimensions and the layout of it – so we can design the new pieces to tie into it.

For example, “When we deal with the state on ADA issues, they’re going to want to see a good floor-plan and layout… Since it was built in 1945, we don’t have plans on it, obviously.”

After leveling the floor of the building in March, installing new lights, repairing plumbing, updating air conditioning, renovating restrooms and completing a myriad of other To Do items to get the building open to the public, there are some big ticket items ahead for the city. Meanwhile, Reel East Texas Film Festival – newly-appointed event manager at the venue – has been focused on aesthetic improvements and other necessities, such as an A/V system.

Looking ahead, Selleck said, contractors are ready to begin work on a fire suppression system in the building – they set a tap for sprinklers Friday and will be doing some underground tasks next week to set the stage for construction inside in time.

In addition to Butler’s first-floor layout and getting correct numbers on the building’s dimension, “The second phase is he’ll be helping us design the re-layout of the balcony area,” Selleck noted. Demolition on the aging balcony has already begun: “We’ve been removing the seats from the second floor. We’ve had a lot of people interested in trying to recover them, but unfortunately most of them are so far gone, they’re not recoverable.”

Friday’s meeting was productive, Selleck said, a good opportunity to put a fresh set of eyes on the project, and Butler was quick to offer insight.

“He was very impressed with the work we’ve done so far. He was very pleased with the condition of the building and he indicated it was in much, much better condition than the Liberty Hall project at its inception,” the city manager added. “He’s been heavily involved in the main street project throughout the state and likes to do this kind of work.”

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