Isis to reopen |

Isis to reopen

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Coming soon: The Isis returns.

Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas is expected to reopen Aspen’s Isis Theater under the terms of a lease that was so close to being finalized on Thursday that one of the parties to the arrangement called it a “done deal.”

The seven partners who own the theater have signed off on a lease agreement with the cinema chain, according to Heidi Houston, a member of The Isis LLC and one of three brokers who is marketing the property.

“It’s a done deal,” she said late yesterday afternoon. “One lawyer has to sign off on something. That’s all we’re waiting for.”

Marshall Smith, president of Idaho-based Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas, declined to comment, though, until the deal was complete. He said he hoped a formal announcement could be made today.

Smith said last week that he hopes to reopen the Hopkins Avenue movie house on June 21.

The projectors, screens and other equipment that were removed from the Isis after it closed in late 2000 have already been trucked back to town from California for their reinstallation in the theater, Houston said. The parking spaces in front of the Isis were blocked off yesterday evening.

Houston declined to comment on the terms of the lease. “It’s nobody’s business but ours,” she said.

She did say that Smith will be able to operate all five auditoriums in the Isis. The theater, however, remains for sale for $13.3 million, and the potential for some other future commercial use on the main floor exists, Houston said.

Nonetheless, the anticipated reopening of the Isis is cause for celebration, said Mayor Helen Klanderud.

“I think it’s great. I’m excited about it,” she said. “I think it says something that a theater operator is willing to come in and try to make a go of this.

“I think many people in this community have found it very sad that that building has sat there empty,” Klanderud said. “I think it does a lot for people’s attitudes here to see new businesses coming into town.”

“Both as the broker and as a partner, I’m really happy to see this happen,” Houston said. “I’m so glad to have stadium seating back in town.”

The Isis LLC bought the seats, which were left in the Isis, from Resort Theaters of America. The group’s $28,000 bid for the furniture was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week. Rocky Mountain Resort Cinemas put up $150,000 to buy the projectors and other equipment owned by RTA, which pulled its operation out of Aspen shortly after the company filed for bankruptcy in October 2000.

The Isis has been empty for nearly a year and a half. Its owners put the theater up for sale last May, shortly after Aspen voters rejected a proposed 0.2 percent sales tax that would have allowed the city to lease the theater and then sublease it to an operator at a subsidized rate.

It appears Aspen voters acted wisely in rejecting public involvement in saving the theater, noted Klanderud, who was not yet mayor at the time but voiced opposition to the ballot measure.

Though the sales tax was defeated, many Aspenites decried the closing of the Isis and its potential conversion to some other use. Now is the time for the public to play a role in its continued existence as a movie theater, Houston said.

“I’m hoping everybody really supports [Smith] so he can be successful,” she said.

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