$50,000 grant from Cowlitz Tribal Council kickstarting theater’s rehab work

Historic Polaris Theatre Foundation to replace theater’s HVAC system, repair building’s water leaks

The former Dragonfly Cinema, now known as the Historic Polaris Theatre, will undergo extensive rehabilitation thanks to a $50,000 grant awarded last week by the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation. The Port Orchard theater’s foundation says it will replace the building’s inoperable HVAC system, fix foundation water leaks, install a firewall barrier and improve the lobby area with the grant funding. (File photo)

The former Dragonfly Cinema, now known as the Historic Polaris Theatre, will undergo extensive rehabilitation thanks to a $50,000 grant awarded last week by the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation. The Port Orchard theater’s foundation says it will replace the building’s inoperable HVAC system, fix foundation water leaks, install a firewall barrier and improve the lobby area with the grant funding. (File photo)

PORT ORCHARD — The Historic Polaris Theatre Foundation, new operators of the Bay Street movie theater formerly known as the Dragonfly Cinema, has been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Cowlitz Tribal Council Foundation’s statewide fund committee.

The tribal council notified the foundation Nov. 13 that it had approved its grant request, which had been submitted by the Port Orchard nonprofit group on Nov. 10.

Steve Sego, a board member of the foundation, said the funding will be used to repair and permanently fix the building’s leaking wall, and replace its old, inoperable HVAC system. Both deficiencies contributed to the gradual deterioration of the building’s interior, with water seepage introducing a musty smell throughout the theater.

Funds from the grant award also will be used to install a firewall barrier on the ceiling to conform with local fire code requirements and provide improvements to the lobby area, he said.

The City of Port Orchard and South Kitsap’s fire marshal are requiring that the space be retrofitted with a firewall layer between the two floors of the building. The need to renovate the lobby, Sego said, also is a top priority so the space can be opened as soon as possible for events and gatherings prior to the theater’s reopening planned for next year.

In the foundation’s grant proposal letter to the tribe council, board members Sego, Joshua Johnson and Coreen Haydock wrote that the restoration of the Polaris “will also play a significant role in the redevelopment of Port Orchard’s downtown and main street.”

The letter also stated that the Port Orchard community is in need of a gathering place “that provides live music and entertainment, a forum for discussions on public issues, special events like weddings, reunions, business meetings, and local service organization meetings.”

Sego and Haydock, who also played a role in redeveloping the Historic Roxy Theatre in Bremerton, pointed to the successful renovation and acquisition of that theater and its contribution to that community’s growth of vibrant entertainment offerings.

The foundation has identified additional funding opportunities that include Historic Theaters and Building for the Arts grants from the state Department of Archaeological and Historic Preservation, as well as additional business and private grants and contributions from the South Kitsap community.

Johnson, one of the building’s co-owners, said Polaris’s foundation is soliciting smaller donor contributions from people in the community. He said prospective donors can visit the Historic Polaris Theatre’s website at polaristheater.com for more information.

Sego said local construction company BJC Group is a project supporter and has provided plans and a preliminary budget for a recommended priority list of issues that need attention. He said that while volunteers have begun working on some of those tasks, professionals will be brought in to address some of the building’s more problematic issues.

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