Members of the Pantheon Board met in special session Thursday to kick start a once-stalled restoration of the historic theater’s second and third floors.

The 5-member group, comprised of members appointed by both city and county elected officials, approved a $209,600 change order, money that will go specifically to finish out the second and third floors of The Pantheon: A Business and Innovation Theater, which is a shared workspace and small business incubator located at 428 Main St.

When board members first awarded the contract to Wolfe Construction, 2724 Washington Ave., more than a year ago, the second and third floors had to be cut to keep it within the $2.4 million budget, money split between city and county elected officials.

Those two floors were set to offer more rentable offices as well as a theater-style meeting space.

The shared workspace was set to open in mid-May, but due to the COVID-19 shutdown, that has been delayed; officials close to the project say they're now shooting for late summer or early fall opening.

But it gave board members extra time to try to raise the funds to complete the project once and for all.

And raise it, they did.

Early this month, the Knox County Development Corp. approved $383,000 for the project, enough to finish out a handful of items on the Pantheon’s first floor as well as all of the second and third floors.

The $209,600 change order presented to the board Thursday by representatives with Myszak and Palmer Architecture and Development is expected to cover the cost of the rest of the project.

“So this is the amount to fully build it out? It’s going to be covered by this?” asked board president and county council president Bob Lechner, to which the architect said, “Yes.”

Th change order, too, should cover making the front entrance compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.

“I just want to thank the KCDC for making this change order possible,” said board member and city council member Brian Grove. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be in a position to approve it.”

KDCD, which gets a lot of its funding from contributions of tax revenues from the city and county, also voted this month to pay up to $275,000 to cover the match to a federal grant which, if obtained, would pay for an exterior restoration as well as additional technology within.

The city, on behalf of officials leading the transformation of the historic theater, applied for a grant from the Economic Development Administration for the work.

The total project cost — which includes everything from new gutters to tuck-pointing and a new marquee — is $915,000.

Pantheon executive director Nichole Like also told board members they will soon have, in the bank, a check for $500,000 from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

That organization, specifically its Wabash River Regional Development Authority arm, three years ago pledged to give to the Pantheon, which will have direct ties to Purdue University, $500,000 for construction.

It's been a long time coming, but Vincennes University, the IEDC’s chosen “fiscal agent” currently has the money in hand.

The Pantheon Board on Thursday merely had to fill out some paperwork to see it transferred.

That $500,000 is included in the current construction budget.

“So this is the final step in a very long journey,” Like said. “It’s good news.”

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