Aldermen will make a final decision Jan. 15 on the future use of the former Royal Theater building at 301 W. St. Louis St.
Toby Miller and Nathan Bolte, who own and operate Dew Bolt Inn, Catawissa, are seeking a conditional use permit (CUP) to renovate and operate the historic building as a restaurant and bar with live entertainment.
Cheryl Brengard is the owner of the structure that formerly housed Brengard Custom Flooring.
The downtown landmark building, which was constructed in 1928 as a movie theater, has been unoccupied for the past several years.
After neighbors of the building opposed the planned bar and entertainment use of the building at the Dec. 11 planning and zoning commission meeting, commissioners voted 5-0 to recommend denial of the permit.
Seven people spoke out against the use as a bar, citing activities experienced on the street when RJs and Handlebars operated bars in the structure at 147 W. St. Louis St. that now houses Brown Jerry’s Blues, Brews and Barbecue.
Proponents of the new use of the building spoke at the Dec. 18 board of aldermen meeting, extolling the ethics of the developers and the benefits of developing the old theater and asking aldermen to approve the use. The first reading of the ordinance was completed.
Mayor Steve Myers said the Jan. 15 meeting, where the second reading will be acted on, gives opponents and proponents another chance to address aldermen before a final vote on the permit application.
Henry Hirth and Lorenz Leber founded the Royal and began showing movies April 18, 1913, in the Knoble Store, across the street from the building. They built a frame theater on the site of the current building in 1917 and 11 years later constructed the current 300-seat building, using bricks from the demolished Union Pacific Railroad car repair shop.
Live variety shows were performed in the building in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2000, Brengard Custom Flooring purchased the building and renovated it for their flooring business. The building has been unoccupied since the flooring company closed.
The Jan. 15 meeting is open to the public.