Mayor's Office

Press Release

Breaking New Ground in Houstonís Fifth Ward

 

 

 

February 17, 2014 -- Mayor Annise Parker broke ground today on a project to bring new life to the Fifth Ward’s historic DeLuxe Theater on Lyons Avenue. In a partnership between the City, Texas Southern University (TSU) and the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Authority (FWCRC), the once popular movie house is being converted to a 125-seat performing arts theater, with classroom space, a laboratory and space for future retail development.

 

“The Deluxe Theater has long been a fixture in the Fifth Ward,” said Mayor Annise Parker.  “This project will give it a new lease on life.  It shows that with creativity and willing partners, we can find productive uses for our historic buildings.  Students and the community will have a new facility for the arts, and our economy will enjoy the jobs created by the construction work.”

 

The City’s Housing and Community Development Department is contributing $5.3 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds toward the $5,550,000 renovation cost. The Fifth Ward’s Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 18 is covering the remaining $250,000. TSU’s lease payments to the City will total $610,725 over five years. The FWCRC will pay an estimated $179,000 in rent over five years. Both TSU and FWCRC will be allowed to offset their rent by offering the facility as a venue for community events.

 

The current renovation is actually the third act of the old theater’s life. Opened in 1941, the DeLuxe had a 28-year run as a movie house before closing in 1969. From 1971 to 1973, it was used as an art gallery, first under the sponsorship of the Menil Foundation and later by Hope Development Inc. The building has remained shuttered for the past 40 years.

 

In 1998, the Fifth Ward CRC purchased the theater and adjacent furniture store and began a master plan to reutilize the DeLuxe as a community performing and visual arts facility. The City acquired the building in 2009 using CDBG funds.

 

“Restoration of the DeLuxe Theater is a major component in our community transformation projects of the Lyons Avenue Renaissance, a multi-faceted development over the next three-to-five years focused on the community’s main street – Lyons Avenue – and the greater Fifth Ward,” said Kathy Payton, CEO of the FWCRC. “Residents tell us they are excited to have the venue available again for cultural events. And we know this is the perfect place for TSU’s Drama Department and for future businesses.”

 

The City’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) is overseeing the theater renovation, which HCDD Director Neal Rackleff said is one of several Fifth Ward projects undertaken by the department.
“The City has invested nearly $12 million in public facilities and quality affordable housing in the Fifth Ward,” said Rackleff.  “Projects like the DeLuxe Theater renovation not only provide cultural and educational opportunities for area residents and students, but they help us preserve the rich history of our City. These are the kinds of projects that we want to support.”

 

The theater renovation will also include restoration of its famous marquis, designed in the Streamline Moderne architectural style popular in America from 1920-1940.  Streamline Modern is a derivation of the Art Deco style.