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Group Sues To Stay In Emery Theatre
The future of a Cincinnati cultural icon is in limbo following a ruling today by a Hamilton County judge. Judge Carl Stich refused to let the non-profit Requiem Project, which had been trying to renovate the theater, stay in the building at least for now. Stich turned down the groups request for a temporary restraining order, but the case is far from finished.
The Emery Theatre opened in 1911, a gift from philanthropist Mary Emery to the Ohio Mechanics Institute. The facility was compared to Carnegie Hall for its acoustic quality, and was home to the Cincinnati Symphony in the early 20th Century. The theater closed in 1999 and fell into disrepair.
The theater is now owned by the University of Cincinnati, but has been sub-leased to one group, which in turn sub-leased it to another, called the Emery Center Corporation, or ECC. The Requiem Project received permission to raise money and rehab the theater, and has been working on that since 2011.
However, the attorney for ECC, Don Mooney, told Judge Stich that the Requiem Project has done little to improve the Emery, and another approach is needed. ECC had told the Requiem Project to leave the theater by August 3. The Requiem group sued, trying to prevent that. Requiem attorney Mark Painter, a UC alumnus, said the University and its sub-lessees have done nothing for 40 years to fix up the building. Glancing toward the lawyers representing the University and its Emery Theater affiliates, Painter said Im not happy here opposing my double alma mater. But UCs neglect and outright hostility to the Emery have been appalling, shameful.
However, the Requiem group did not get what it wanted in court at least not today. However, there will be future court hearings and presumably a trial to decide who ultimately controls efforts to restore the Emery to its former glory. Leaving the courtroom, the Requiem Projects Tara Gordon told reporters This is just a mess. Theres three entities pointing fingers at each other saying its not up to me. Well who is it up to? Our position is that were the only company that has moved the dial forward in restoring the theater.
The ECCs Mooney said it would take three million dollars just to bring the theater up to code for a certificate of occupancy, and $30 million for a full restoration.
One option which has been floated is turning the Emery over to the City of Cincinnati instead of either the current owners keeping it or letting the Requiem Project handle the revitalization.