For eight years a monumental theater stood vacant on St. Pete Beach, with its doors shut and an echoing farewell message of “Thanks for the Memories” plastered on its marquee.
But the 80 year-old, single-screen Beach Theatre lives on, as a brand new website and social media accounts were recently launched by a team led by new owner Christopher Scott who purchased the historic building at 315 Corey Ave. just a few months ago. Scott Commercial Holdings bought the 4,800 square-foot theater in August 2021 for $652,000, according to Pinellas county property records.
And it’s no coincidence that the relaunch announcement took place on Nov. 18, 2021—it’s been exactly 8 years since the theater shuttered its doors in 2013, months before the unexpected death of its last owner, screenwriter Michael France.
“The Beach Theatre will be an inclusive space where St. Pete Beach and our neighboring communities may join together and share in the joy of art in all its forms,” the new website states. “Newly released independent and international cinema will have a home here, as will carefully curated series of classic, repertory programming.”
A few months ago, Scott asked the St. Pete Beach community for its input on the future of the beloved theater. After opinions were voiced both in-person and through hundreds of emails, St. Pete Catalyst reported that the most common theme amongst the residents was that of wanting a multifaceted performing arts center that focused on independent programming and local events.
The community also urged Scott to create a nonprofit organization to help ensure the historical status of the theater. He definitely took that advice to heart, as Scott recently created The Beach Theatre Community Foundation to further the mission of historical and cultural preservation. “We will restore, remodel, and maintain the historic Beach Theatre in a manner consistent with its original design and historical aesthetic,” the nonprofit said.
New Executive Director Shana Nichols and Director of Operations & Programming Joey Hager are both Florida natives who have extensive experience in Tampa Bay’s film and entertainment scene, and will bring an important local touch to the rejuvenated theater. They plan to bring back the once popular “Rocky Horror Picture Show” live performance—one of the many nostalgic programs that will once again see the light of day.
Although the vintage look on the outside of Beach Theatre will be retained and its blue-striped exterior isn’t going anywhere, Scott and his team are giving the inside a serious facelift. They plan to replace 150 seats, expand the lobby, and create some sort of green room behind the screen, according to the Catalyst. These renovations will run from about $400,000 to $500,000, and The Beach Theatre Community Foundation is asking its community for help with the pricey revampment.
Under the “support” tab on the historic new Beach Theatre website, you can help the foundation turn this theater into a thriving community staple once again. First order of business is getting the leaky roof repaired, which will run about $30,000.
Throughout the decades, its various owners have always played up its nostalgic feel, and the nonprofit running this newest version of Beach Theatre is keeping that tradition alive—while simultaneously revamping the parts of it that need major technological upgrades.
But even with all of this reconstruction taking place, the Beach Theatre Community Foundation is confident in a late 2022 grand opening.
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