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Holly opening timeline is unclear

Holly Theatre fans may have to wait a little longer to see the restored Medford building spring back to life.

“It’s hard to say what an opening date will be and a final cost will be,” said Paul Christy, executive director of Jefferson Live!, which oversees the Holly, as well as the Cascade Theatre in Redding.

When he assumed the new leadership role in December, Christy anticipated an aggressive timeline to finish the auditorium by the end of 2021.

But a competitive construction environment and significant fundraising that still is needed have thrown the timeline up in the air.

“I’m not saying we won’t get something done this year,” he said. “The process is taking longer. It’s just a competitive environment right now.”

At last count, the Holly, located at the corner of Sixth and Holly streets, was expected to cost about $11 million to remodel and was some $3 million shy of that amount.

A number of fundraising efforts have taken place over the years, and the Holly has a donor list of 7,200.

Donors have purchased 70% of the 1,000 seats in the Holly, with prices ranging from $500 to $1,500.

Until bids from subcontractors come in, Christy said, he won’t have a clear idea of how much it will cost to finish the Holly.

“I’m loathe to talk about dollar amounts at this point,” he said.

He said the Holly project is facing a number of issues in the competitive construction environment that could impact costs, including wages, materials and the sizable number of other commercial projects in the valley.

By the middle to the end of March, Christy hopes to have a better idea where these costs will land when bids come in.

About 40% of the Holly has been completed, including the facade and the front area of the building where the Jefferson Live! offices are located.

The auditorium and stage areas still need a lot of work, and until they’re finished the building won’t be able to host concerts and other shows. Once the auditorium is completed, the last phase will be renovating the third floor.

Christy said he doesn’t want to cut corners on the restoration, so even if it takes extra time to complete, he thinks it will be worth it.

Even if the Holly were finished right now, it would be difficult to host events with pandemic restrictions in place.

Work on remodeling the Holly started in 2011, when Jefferson Public Radio purchased it. JPR had previously remodeled the Cascade in Redding. After a lengthy dispute between JPR, Southern Oregon University and the university system, a separate entity known as Jefferson Live! was created to deal with the Holly and the Cascade.

The 1930-era Holly opened at the start of the Great Depression. In 1986, the interior was largely gutted. Restoration efforts have been underway in fits and starts over the past decade. Many of the items needed for restoration have been donated from the community.

The goal is to make the building look like it did when it opened in 1930, but with air conditioning, modern lighting systems, an elevator and better bathrooms. Some of the improvements, including new bathrooms, have already been installed.

Over the past decade, the estimates to restore the Holly have ballooned. Initially, the price tag was said to be $4.3 million. Now it’s almost three times that amount.

Christy said that once the building is completed, local residents who grew up going to movies at the Holly will appreciate its restoration.

“I want to deliver a quality product so that the Holly will have that wow factor,” Christy said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @reporterdm.

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneA timeline to finish The Holly Theatre in Medford could extend past the end of the year.