New owner of Robins Theater seeks fresh start on downtown renovation
By Ed Runyan
Mark Marvin, owner of Downtown Development Group, which recently bought the Robins Theater downtown, says his company and Sunrise Entertainment “have no affiliation with” earlier efforts to renovate the theater, including a community group called The Robins Project.
In a press release issued Monday, Marvin referred to a press release sent to news media last week by Melissa Holmes, project organizer for The Robins Project, in which Holmes announced that Downtown Development had bought the theater with a plan to renovate it and reopen it as a theater.
Holmes’ release discussed the work The Robins Project had done since 2012, including partnering with students from The New School in New York City, of which Holmes is a graduate, to develop financing and development plans for the theater.
But Marvin’ said Holmes’ press release gave the “false implication that Downtown Development Group had infused cash into an effort and organization called The Robins Project.”
Marvin said the work of The Robins Project and New School “had no impact on our decision to purchase The Robins Theater.”
Holmes, who is employed by the non-profit corporation Warren Redevelopment and Planning, said in an email Monday that the reason for mentioning The Robins Project in her press release was to “thank the community and our many volunteers, as our grassroots effort to restore the theater space has come to an end.”
She added, “It was not our intention to infer the continuation or correlation of The Robins Project to the new owner, although we have offered to share our compilation of research and institutional knowledge. We wish the Downtown Development Group and Sunrise Entertainment the best and look forward to seeing a true historical treasure come back to life.”
Marvin told The Vindicator Wednesday that the renovation would involve a $5 million to $7 million investment over about the next two years and a partnership with Sunrise Entertainment and its president Ken Haidaris of the Sunrise Restaurant of Warren, which will book the entertainment at the theater.
“We are proud that we have been able to acquire this gem of a property and look forward over the next few years to the renovation project and when this Grande Dame can once again open its doors to live and cinematic productions for the City of Warren, Ohio,” Marvin said in his press release.
Marvin said the purchase came about only after Downtown Development was able to assure Brad Phillips of Heritage Galleria, former owner, that Downtown Development intended to restore the Robins back to what it once was and that Sunrise Entertainment would manage the facility.
“Downtown Development Group purchased this property because it fits with our long-term and immediate goal of a revitalized downtown Warren,” Marvin said.
The company now owns 11 buildings downtown and another 24 parcels of downtown land. Among its projects, it bought and renovated the Mahoning Building at the corner of Mahoning Avenue and West Market Street and recently purchased the former SCOPE building just west of Courthouse Square with plans to develop a restaurant and winery there.
Marvin said the Robins renovation is intended to be a public-private partnership with the community being involved but his company will receive no funds from the city.
“We are confident in the community we represent, and this project will start from a fresh perspective, devoid of past failures and endeavor to return this crown jewel to a thriving entertainment venue,” Marvin said.