Garman supporters make last-ditch appeal to save historic theater

The Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association has made its final pitch to gain control of the Garman Theatre before the structure is completely demolished, but time is working against the organization.

Attorney Bruce Manchester said he filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, asking for an expedited hearing to challenge lower court decisions.

Developer Ara Kervandjian owns the building; his workforce housing plan was approved by the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority and upheld by Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler and a Commonwealth Court judge in an appeal.

Kervandjian plans to raze the Garman to create 32 apartment units when combined with the Hotel Do De property next door and the nearby Cadillac Building. All three were badly damaged by fire. Demolition on the Do De is largely complete.

But the BHCA is still trying to get control of the Garman and raise money to rehabilitate it into a regional arts center.

Manchester has said he wants to center the case on issues such as Kervandjian’s funding and tackle the issue of standing that hurt the BHCA at the local and appellate level. He said the BHCA should have standing in the case because it is an interested party, and excluding parties that don’t have a direct financial interest doesn’t open the process to public scrutiny.

He is looking to speed the process up, but time will be a major issue.

Demolition at the site started more than a week ago, with the Garman next to go.

Officials have said the process will take three to four weeks.