SOUTH BEND — The old Avon Theater and two nearby storefronts are expected to be demolished this summer.
With a 5-0 vote, the St. Joseph County Public Library board on Monday approved the demolition drawings and granted permission for the library to advertise for bids for the demolition work.
The three downtown buildings to be demolished are along Michigan and Wayne streets, just east of the Main Library; the former Avon Theater, the former Catholic Diocese office and a vacant storefront formerly occupied by the New York Collection store.
Library administrators want to demolish the structures and use the space for additional parking. Demolition is expected to cost $100,000 to $200,000, library director Donald Napoli said.
The building at the southwest corner of Michigan and Wayne will remain. Ciao’s Italian Restaurant & Bakery has signed a contract with the library to relocate to that site later this year.
An assessment of the old theater should determine soon whether there is asbestos insulation around pipes in the basement. If asbestos is found, removal will raise the total cost to close to $200,000, Napoli said.
The library is financing the project on its own. Napoli asked city leaders to contribute to the project, but said he was told the city doesn’t have any money to contribute this year.
Arkos Design Inc. is serving as the project manager.
The Avon opened in the early 20th century as the Strand Theater. It reopened as the Avon Theater in 1949, showing first-run commercial films and seating 800 to 900 people. It later operated as the Mall Theater until the mid-1970s. The interior was largely gutted years ago to be used as storage space.
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe: