The Terrace Theater has been a Robbinsdale landmark since 1951. A group of Terrace-lovers hoping to preserve it for future generations took the first step by presenting a petition with nearly 2,200 signatures to the Robbinsdale City Council Tuesday night.
“Everybody in Robbinsdale or from Robbinsdale has some kind of an emotional connection to the Terrace,” said Diane Jacobson, president of the Robbinsdale Historical Society. “It was the showplace of the town.”
When it opened, the 1,300-seat theater by prolific Minnesota architects Liebenberg and Kaplan, was instantly acclaimed as a masterpiece of midcentury design. But it couldn’t survive shifts in moviegoing habits, notably the switch to multiplexes, and the Terrace closed in 1999. There’s been no actual notice of any plans to demolish the theater, but preservationists don’t want to leave the theater’s future up to its corporate owner in New York.
Anybody hoping to reopen the Terrace faces a tough task, said Robbinsdale Council Member Pat Backen.
“I would absolutely love to see it come back to life,” Backen said Wednesday. “But I think there are significant hurdles in front of any project to get it done.” The cost of a sale and renovation, he said, could be as high as $10 million — about the size of the Robbinsdale city budget. Anyone planning to rehab the building would likely have to do so with moral support from the city, not financial, Backen said.
The theater’s owner, Brixmor Property Group, did not return requests for comment.
Mayor Regan Murphy called the theater “one of those places that everyone has a distinct memory of. If a private entity wants to come in and preserve the theater, or rebrand it, we’d certainly work with them. The passion that this group [of preservationists] has is quite impressive.”
David Leonhardt, one of the leaders of the preservation group, said members are working to get a determination of eligibility that would allow the building to be considered for formal historic landmark status. If the group can achieve that, he said, it would open the door to historic preservation grants and other funding.