A partnership struck last week between the Preservation Trust of Vermont and HEI Resorts, the corporate owners of The Equinox Resort, will place at least $40,000 into stabilizing the increasingly unsteady building, and the trust will then have an option for the next 6 months - possibly longer - to market the building to any potentially interested occupants. If that doesn't pan out, then it's back to Plan A - demolishing the building - and the Preservation Trust will support that course. Had this partnership not been forged, the Opera House would in all likelihood have been demolished sometime between now and the end of the year.
While we'll all hope for the best and keep our fingers crossed that this story will have a happy ending, no one should be under any doubts that this will be anything but an uphill climb and the odds are probably less than even that it will work out. The poor old Opera House is in pretty rugged shape. A lot of work - and more
Of course, it's not going to be inexpensive to tear down the building either, but the guess here is that it will cost substantially more to whip it back into shape for some non-profit organization - the Preservation Trusts' desired outcome. And neither is it obvious what that space might work for. There is a decent supply of performance and meeting space already in town, although more never hurts. Maybe some existing non-profit organization is bursting at the seams and needs more room to expand. That may be the most promising course, but again, we're talking some serious dollars here that will have to come, in all likelihood, out of some philanthropist's pocket. Those pockets are already being targeted by any number of other groups and causes, all of which have a compelling story to tell.
Nevertheless, we'll wish the Preservation Trust and The Equinox well as they go forward with what in all probability be the final call for the Opera House. If this doesn't work, then it will need to come down - hopefully parts of it - such as the facade, can be preserved in some way for some future use. At the very least, having one last try to save the structure is commendable and worth the effort.