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The Journal Gazette

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Tuesday's ribbon-cutting offered the curious their first opportunity to glimpse the renovated space inside Bluffton Road's Clyde Theatre.

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette People gather for the Clyde Theatre ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour on Tuesday.

Friday, May 11, 2018 1:00 am


Revived theater's debut adds more shine to city

Revived theater's debut adds more shine to city

Just about everything Fort Wayne is striving for can be summed up in the Clyde Theatre, which officially reopened this week.

Building a future from the past: A 67-year-old facility had deteriorated into a rotting shell with a potholed parking lot. Now it's a cutting-edge concert facility with a retro-cool sign, a summer's worth of bookings no one older than 40 has ever heard of, and a parking lot as smooth as a hockey rink. 

Nurturing entrepreneurship: Rick Kinney, now the operation's general manager, identified a need for an entertainment site bigger than most existing venues but less expansive than the Embassy or the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Kinney spent five years getting others in the community to share his vision for the renovated theater. He persuaded the Regional Development Authority that the project was in the spirit of revitalizing northeast Indiana and thus worthy of an investment from the Regional Cities fund. He gained the backing of Chuck and Lisa Surack by outlining what The Clyde could do for the local music scene. He stressed the project's transformative potential to convince the City Council that it should grant him a loan from the Legacy Fund and create a tax-increment financing district to help him repay it.

Adding a piece to the larger puzzle: Fixing one of the city's least-inviting parking lots may already have brightened Quimby Village's prospects. The crowds the theater will draw may help revitalize the whole Bluffton Road corridor. The Clyde may be too far west to give southeast Fort Wayne much of a  boost, but it shows what can be done when the right idea meets the right real estate. Most of all, it helps elevate the hard-to-measure but very real sense of quality of life in this community. Maybe Flamingo Nosebleed and Flaming Lips don't play your kind of music, and maybe the idea of standing throughout a three-hour concert sounds to you like something the CIA would do to make terrorists talk. But expanding the menu of entertainment offerings could be yet another ticket to attracting and keeping young, talented workers.