The debate over the future of the Harding Theater is heating up again, and there are still some pretty sharp divides between the property owner and some folks in the community. At the Planning Commission last week, the owner presented a new design that conserves the theater (but not all of the backstage).
One neighbor protested against the "blight" from leaving the theater abandoned. I decided to check it out and decide for myself. Here are a few shots from Hayes Street (showing the "fly loft" that would be eliminated and where the eight units of housing would go). With grafitti on not just one but three signs, and the chain link fence, and the hulking Clear Channel billboard, I have to agree that the owner's not taking care of the property.
Then there's the pile of black trash bags and a dusty black truck with flat tires.
Yet no matter how neglected the property, it's still going to be difficult to bring the Harding Theater back to life. Too bad, since performing groups need more mid-sized stages, and the Western Addition is poorly served (notwithstanding the recent renovation of the African-American Arts and Cultural Complex).
The bright spot for my visit was finding that the corner (Hayes @ Divis) has been cleared of a low-hanging Clear Channel billboard (recently wheatpasted by "uppity bike commuters").