By Jeanne Sager
LIBERTY April 23, 2002 The Liberty Theater is being reborn again.
The theater was purchased recently by David Gibson and Linda Eklund of the new development company Main Street Project, which has announced its plans to restore the building.
The new owners hope to continue showing first-run features and develop new programming, completing minor renovations to open this summer and a more extensive project to be completed during the winter. The Main Street Project is working with local contractor Frank DeMayo to rehabilitate the building.
Were determined to make the theater a clean, comfortable, welcoming place of entertainment and a successful business, said Gibson. The prominence of the theater on Main Street can make it an anchor and inspiration for other businesses.
According to Town of Liberty Supervisor Dick Martinkovic, the theater has stood on South Main Street for years.
Though he wasnt sure when the building was erected, the supervisor recalled taking in shows on Friday and Saturday nights all through his high school days.
The theater has always been a great gathering point for our community, he said. If properly restored, I think the theater can be a drawing destination point for people of Sullivan County, and it can help revitalize Main Street.
This is at least the second time the theater is being reborn, Martinkovic said.
In the 1970s, after the theater had shut down, area business owners rescued the building and restored it to former glory. Seeing that happen again can only mean good things for Liberty, Martinkovic said.
Im ecstatic, he noted. Its a good building, its in a good location.
Hopefully this will bring some life back to South Main Street in Liberty.
Eklund and Gibson plan to bring new tenants to the building as well, filling the storefronts with new dining and retail establishments that will enhance the movie-goers experience.
There are already several tenants in the building, and the developers hope to work well with the good roster of tenants.
Gibson is founder of a graphic design firm in New York City.
Eklund is a marketing and business consultant for the design and construction industry in the city and has renovated an old schoolhouse in Woodbourne.
Both own homes in the Liberty area and are hoping to develop real estate properties on Main Street that will attract both full-time and part-time residents.
We believe in Libertys commercial revival, and were working to make it happen, said Gibson.
We see Liberty again becoming a popular tourist destination, added Eklund.
As for why they chose the theater building, Gibson said he sees it as the most exciting building in Liberty.
With all the development that has gone on in Liberty in recent months, this is a perfect time to step into the game, he added.
It offers a great potential to be a centerpiece of the revitalization in Liberty.
The developers will reveal further plans for other projects in Liberty in the future.