GLOVERSVILLE — Last week’s announcement that Gloversville had been awarded New York state’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant took place inside one of the key projects named in the city’s successful DRI application — the Glove Theatre.
The theater is listed as one of 18 potential economic development projects for Gloversville’s 114-acre DRI zone, which includes 273 parcels, of which the city owns and controls 24 parcels. The DRI zone includes the city’s core downtown area, and is, roughly, bounded to the west by Western Boulevard, Spring Street to the north, East and West Pine Streets to the south and Carpenter Street to the east.
Located at 42 N. Main St., the Glove Theatre renovations project is close to both the geographic heart of the DRI zone, as well as the sentimental hearts of many of the people who supported the city’s efforts to get the grant.
The theater was once the flagship of what was called the “Schine Circuit,” the nation’s largest movie theater chain. It was built during the time when the city had become the glove making capital of the world and originally operated as a vaudeville house before becoming a movie theater in the late 1920s.
“The Glove closed its doors in the 1970s during the decline of the leather industry. It sat neglected for 20 years and faced demolition prior to its rebirth in 1995,” reads Gloversville’s DRI application.
James Hannahs, Gloversville’s Downtown Development Specialist, said the theater is symbolic of Gloversville’s past and its grit and determination to rise again.
“We are seeing this happen in real time,” Hannahs said. “We are sitting in possibly the strongest arts center and economic development catalyst in downtown. If this community had not been involved in saving this historic place 26 years ago, we would be sitting in a parking lot in the middle of December.”
The theater’s Board of Directors has in recent years raised about $75,000 in private donations to pay for a new roof, renovate the men’s bathroom to be functional and code compliant and repair its marquee.
For the $10 million DRI grant, the proposed project for The Glove has been scaled back somewhat from the $5 million “restoration” project included in Gloversville’s unsuccessful 2019 DRI application.
“Continued restoration efforts are shifting back towards the fundamentals, as many of the attractive initiatives require major investment,” reads the Gloversville DRI application. “Restoring the plaster is not viable without a temperature-controlled auditorium, necessitating the need for an entire HVAC system. Recent inspections discovered inadequacies in the building-wide sprinkler system, halting the theater’s ability to obtain a certificate of occupancy”
Gloversville’s DRI application includes a $1.05 million renovation project to purchase the new HVAC system and restore the walls, with $900,000 coming from the DRI grant and $100,000 from private equity.
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Schenectady, was one of the state officials who was on stage to discuss the DRI award on Thursday. He said the Glove Theatre project reminds him of when he was on the Schenectady city council and the city decided to sell Proctors Theater, which was in terrible shape at the time for $1. He said it was one of the best decisions he ever supported during his time in local government, because the theater went on to become one of the centerpieces of the city’s successful Metroplex economic development efforts. He said he believes the same thing could happen for Gloversville.