City council votes to redevelop Broadway Theater in Cape Girardeau

Cape Girardeau City Council votes to save Broadway Theater
Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 10:51 AM CDT|Updated: May. 1, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - On Monday, May 1, the Cape Girardeau City Council voted 4-3 in favor of redeveloping the old Broadway Theater.

The leader of the development group, Brennon Todt, said he is very excited about the potential for this project and looks forward to getting started quickly.

Todt’s plan is to first stabilize the building in about 90 days, which he said would mean eliminating the safety hazard and the dangerous conditions that currently exist.

Then Phase 1 of the development plan will begin. Todt said this first phase will be completed within 12 months and will include the build out of three storefront retail spaces and two upper level residential spaces. Additionally, the plan will allow the developers to retain the historic elements of the building structure and restore the classic marquee signage.

After completing Phase 1, Todt said the next step is to move immediately into Phase 2. Phase 2 will convert the theater flyhouse into 8 luxury apartments with some rooftop entertaining space. The estimated completion time for Phase 2 is also 12 months.

Phase 3 will begin as soon as Phase 2 is completed, according to Todt. This phase will convert the space into a smaller venue, and build out three additional storefront retail spaces. Todt added that five additional luxury apartments will also be installed with a completion time of about 20 months or so.

Steve Hoffman, who spoke at the meeting, said the group believes that this project has many benefits for the city and that choosing the repair option will save the city money.

“It will cost roughly $150,000 to repair the building, as opposed to approximately $300,000 or more to demolish it,” Hoffman said.

Several members of the community spoke in favor of the city council’s vote to redevelop the theater.

”I’m so excited,” said SEMO Historic Preservation Student Ella Rhodes. “I’m a historic preservation student, so to be a part of an actual preservation project and to be able to see it through all the way, I’m so excited that I actually get to be a part of like every step in the process and I can see it and build my career off that.”

Executive Director of Old Town Cape Liz Haynes was also in favor of the vote tonight.

”This might be the end of this piece of this project, but it’s really just the beginning, because now we’re going to work hand in hand with Brennon to try and recruit businesses to fill his space you know, just like we worked hand in hand with him with River and Rails,” Haynes said. “So yes, there’s an appetite for it, there’s partnerships for it and this is just the beginning.”

The development group originally presented their plan to rehabilitate the old Broadway Theater at a Cape Girardeau City Council meeting on Monday, April 17.

At the time, the city was looking at two bids to demolish the building.

The city council voted on April 17 to move forward with a public hearing on Monday, May 1, to address the developer’s plan to revitalize the building.

City Council Member Robbie Guard offered the only dissenting vote, asking that Todt have financial backing for 100 percent of the plan.

“I struggle supporting due to lack of 100 percent assurance the entire property gets completed as Mr. Todt plans,” Guard said. “There is not a financial commitment for all of this property and I would hate to only see the first phase and not all phases completed.”

Guard added that he believes this is what any business partner would want if they were investing their own money, even more so taxpayer dollars.

Todt plans to restore the building by first shoring up the damaged front section, then adding retail to that area. The development would continue through three phases which would add other uses to the building such as apartments.

The group believes there are many benefits to rehabilitating the old Broadway Theater, such as increasing property values in surrounding areas, returning money to the city in sales tax revenue and saving the city money in addressing safety concerns.

Supports to the old Broadway Theatre building, damaged by fire, have been removed.  A crew is...
Supports to the old Broadway Theatre building, damaged by fire, have been removed. A crew is surveying what it will take to tear the building down.(Source: KFVS/Don Frazier)

The theater building was badly damaged in a fire in March 2021.

The Broadway Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places in June 2015. It was built between 1920-21.