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Mt. Lebanon theater to get $3 million revamp

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Officials working to reopen the Denis Theatre in Mt. Lebanon outlined plans for the $3 million project Monday.

"Time has not been kind to the Denis," said Anne Kemerer, executive director of the Denis Theatre Foundation. "There is water damage, vandalism, some outdated equipment."

The theater's marquee is in pieces in the lobby. Its basement is filled with 70 years' worth of items.

The Denis opened in 1937 as a one-screen moviehouse with a capacity to seat 1,200. It changed hands a number of times over 60 years before being bought last year by Mt. Lebanon Commissioner D. Raja. The 11,000-square-foot theater closed in 2004.

Raja, who purchased the theater on Washington Road in November to keep it from being converted to an office complex, has signed a 15-year lease to rent the building to the Denis Theatre Foundation.

He hopes the project will spur other development in the community.

"It will be the catalyst," Raja said.

The foundation is hoping to raise money for the renovation from government grants and private donations.

The Denis would reopen as an art house, showing independent, foreign language films and documentaries.

The timetable for the project depends on the success of the fundraising effort, officials said.

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