Effort to save Bellefonte’s historic Garman Theatre seeks more public support

The Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association members are again reaching out to the public to try to drum up more support and explain their efforts to save the historic Garman Theatre.

The group will be holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the Courthouse Annex to talk directly to the community and get feedback on their proposal to restore the fire-damaged Garman Theatre and turn it into a regional arts center.

BHCA President Keith Koch said he is optimistic that the group will be able to get more public support and ultimately sway the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority away from its decision to award the building to State College developer Ara Kervandjian.

If he is able to buy the building, Kervandjian plans to turn it, the Hotel Do De and the Cadillac Building into 32 workforce housing apartment units. All three buildings were damaged by fire.

A final decision is expected to be submitted to President Judge Thomas King Kistler after Wednesday’s IDA meeting. Kistler is expected to approve that decision without more hearings.

Last week, Kervandjian told the Bellefonte Historical Architecture Review Board that he would attempt to save the facade of the Garman to try to make some common ground with the BHCA, calling it a compromise.

But Koch and the other members don’t see it that way.

Koch said Kervandjian suggested the BHCA pay for the added costs that would come up in saving the facade with the money it has raised to try to save the theater. He added that their goal is not to save the facade, it’s to save the whole building.

“It’s not a win-win,” he said. “It would be a win for him. It would not be a win for us.”

Kervandjian did not return multiple inquiries for comment by press time Sunday.

The public meeting is expected to last until about 9 p.m., and the BHCA is asking anyone interested in joining the effort to come out and show support.