A group of residents in Robbinsdale, Minn. are uniting with the Minnesota Preservation Alliance in an attempt to save the historic Terrace Theatre from demolition. This summer, city officials voted to permit the theater to be demolished to make way for a Hy-Vee grocery store. Many residents agreed with the decision, but many did not, pointing out the 65-year-old theater’s historical significance.
With demolition scheduled for this past Saturday, Sept. 24, a group organized as Friends of the Terrace fought for an emergency injunction to delay demolition. A stay was finally granted — but by the time it was signed, demolition had already begun. A gaping hole had been punched through the projector wall, and a smaller hole closer to the roof. Views differ on how severely the building’s structure has been compromised.
The order, signed on Saturday in the theater’s parking lot, stipulates that demolition should be delayed while court proceedings are underway. To save the building, the Friends of the Terrace have to pay $2.8 million to the property owner — New-York-based Brixmor Property — plus a $3.5 million dollar bond to Robbinsdale’s Economic Development Authority, by today at 4:30 p.m.
While the Friends of the Terrace scramble to raise funds, other Robbinsdale residents support the city council in approving the demolition. They say the theater has become an eyesore, and they argue a Hy-Vee would bring economic advantages to the city — which doesn’t currently have a major grocery store. The city council claims the grocery store would create over 700 jobs, as well as generate property taxes. The venue hosted its last movie screening in 1999, and has been closed ever since.
The Terrace Theatre opened on May 23, 1951, making it the first post-WWII movie theater in the Twin Cities area. It became so important to the tiny suburb that Governor Mark Dayton declared May 23, 2016 as Historic Terrace Theatre Day. The venue has also been recognized by the State Historic Preservation Office as being potentially eligible for inclusion on the state’s historic register. The Friends of the Terrace would like to see the venue reopen for public events, seminars, live music, and theater.
Nicholas Trahan is a student at McNally Smith College of Music. He’s an intern at Rhymesayers Entertainment and an administrative assistant for Toki Wright’s Soul Tools Entertainment.