Make your home page

Columbus group explores sale for historic Crump Theatre

COLUMBUS, Ind. (AP) – Columbus officials who’ve struggled to find a solution for a deteriorating downtown theater have decided to market it in hopes of finding a buyer or tenant.

The Republic reports the Columbus Capital Foundation Inc. is working to establish the best way to advertise the 125-year-old, 632-seat Crump Theatre.

The future of the historic facility has been in question in recent years as its condition has deteriorated.

In March, a Lafayette-based theater consultant group suggested five possible uses and renovations costing as much as $10.8 million.

In December, a Bloomington-based theater manager delivered a business plan for the theater.

But no person or group has expressed interest in owning or leasing the theater or even running programs at the site, board member Tracy Souza said.

“We’ve had nothing,” she said. “If they’re out there, we’d love to hear from them.”

Souza said the board is working with preservation consultant Richard McCoy to best decide how to get out the word that the Crump needs support and is looking for a suitor.

Mayor Kristen Brown said the city can’t pay for extensive renovations using only public money. Without a private partner, selling the Crump seems like the best option, she said.

“I feel we have given the Crump its very best shot,” she said.

The building has been closed for a year because of fire code and structural issues. Souza said the foundation has turned off all utilities except electricity to conserve money.

She said the foundation hopes to have a plan to market the Crump in place within the next few weeks.

Local historian David Sechrest said he isn’t surprised by a potential sale given the lack of support from the Columbus Area Arts Council, the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and other groups.

“Without these groups involved and wanting to support it, boy, that really hurts a lot,” Sechrest said. “You would think if someone felt very strongly about a certain cause, they would try to fight their very best about that cause; and I didn’t see any of that.”