Walls going up at Woodstock Theatre

WOODSTOCK – A couple got engaged Friday at the Woodstock Theatre, about eight years after it provided the scenery for their first date.

On Monday morning, construction crews started setting concrete panels that were 40 feet tall by 8 feet wide to form the exterior of what soon will be a revamped and renovated building – with the same hometown feel that’s made the theater a community favorite.

“It’s kind of neat to see this thing because I can’t tell you how many people have come up and said, ‘I worked here when I was 16,’ ” said Mike Wozny, who was appointed general manager of the theater in July. “It’s a community theater. It’s been here forever.”

The $4.8 million project will bring the theater, 209 Main St., to eight screens from its previous four.

The project, which the city has helped so far by allocating $100,000 in tax increment financing funds toward Main Street improvements, is scheduled for completion in late summer 2013.

“It will give us more options that we can offer the public,” Wozny said. “That’s the great thing about it.”

In the past three and a half months, construction crews knocked down part of the theater and leveled the ground in preparation for delivery of the concrete panels, which are driven on semitrailers from Aurora.

Crews will install 66 panels by 3 p.m. Thursday if construction goes as scheduled.

Original plans called for the panels to go up by Wednesday afternoon. Mercedes Ortegel, assistant superintendent of G2 Builders, said “unforeseen circumstances” led to the delay.

The panels form the exterior shell of the theater, which is operated by Classic Cinemas. Once they’re up, contractors will add a roof and heat the building.

“Then we can work all winter,” Wozny said.

Theater management decided to do the project in two phases to keep some screens open during construction.

Two screening rooms are open currently while contractors work on building six others. Once those six are done – likely this spring – the two other screens will shut down for renovation, including the historic, 85-year-old auditorium.

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