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Oxford’s Princess Theatre set for demolition, construction

By Kelly Higginson, For The Miami Student

The historic Princess Theatre will be demolished Monday as it enters the final stages of its transformation into what will become a theatre and commercial space.

The historic theatre caught fire in March 2014, due to an ice machine overheating. Although none were hurt and the theatre was not open at the time, it was shut down due to smoke damage.

The Princess sign will remain, but the building itself will have a completely new look and purpose. The theatre will be completely redone and include the first film equipment that will show digital.

Lindsey Myers, the managing partner of Rodbro Myers Rodbro Wood LLC, said the past year has included extensive planning to renovate the old theatre into a new space that includes student housing and commercial space. The construction is slated for completion next fall.

After designing the building and creating the layout, the construction company faced difficulties with the space, which shared a wall with the Chinese and Thai restaurant, Phan Shin.

"When you talk about construction and demolition with taking down such a big building in Uptown Oxford, there are so many moving parts," Myers said.

Half the difficulty, which prolonged the construction process, was figuring out how to tear down the building without taking down Phan Shin's back wall. After negotiating with Alan Kyger, head of economic development for Oxford, the two agreed to shift the property line of the Princess Theatre by 14 inches off the left side.

Myers said they were able to save the Phan Shin wall by expanding the building 14 inches to the back.

"It was a really nice mutual deal [Kyger] gave us," he said.

According to Myers, the demolition process of the Princess will officially start Monday and take about three to four weeks.

Mayor of Oxford Kevin McKeehan approved the permits involving the demolition process and has approved the layout of the building itself.

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"They are going to retain the marquee of the original old building and refurbish it," McKeehan said. "We wanted to keep the Princess sign with the new structure."

According to McKeehan, the student housing that will get put above the theatre is helping fund the remodel of the theatre itself.

Miami University junior Matt Schatz is one of many who have signed to live in the student housing apartments for fall 2016. Schatz and his 14 friends reserved the entire third floor of the apartments.

"We thought it was a pretty good deal and Red Brick Property Management, LLC has been working with us to show us floor plans and their ideas for the top floor," Schatz said.

According to Myers, the fourth floor will include a commercial space that includes outside rooftop patios.

"I have built a lot of buildings in Oxford, and this by far is the nicest building plan I've ever seen," Myers said.

Schatz said he is frustrated that the construction has faced several delays, and he and his friends are worried the building will not be fully ready by fall 2016.

"They keep delaying the construction process so I really do hope they stick to it being Monday," he said.

Aside from the complications with the shared wall between Princess and Phan Shin, the construction process has been delayed other times for other complications.

According to Myers, part of the delay was a miscommunication with McKeehan concerning the water tap in the building. The previous construction date, set for yesterday, had to be rescheduled or the water tap would have been hooked to the building. .

According to Myers and McKeehan, they are already ahead of schedule and they can confidently say the building will be complete by fall 2016.