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Rollerdrome out, theater in

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Posted: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:03 am

GENEVA — Earlier this year, Rachel Long approached town leaders about transforming the Rollerdrome on Route 14 into a play area for children.

The project will go forward, Long said Monday, but the location has changed. She now hopes to open her Kidventure Dome in the former Regent Theatre/Cinema 5 building in downtown Geneva — and she hopes to do it before Thanksgiving.

“We would have loved to be in the Rollerdrome, but circumstances beyond our control with financial institutions and the cost of renovations made that not a possibility,” she said. “We actually had an opportunity a year ago to look at the cinema. I was focused on really trying to make the Rollerdrome work, so we didn’t look deep into it. When we got the news that the bank thought the renovation was too much for us on a building we didn’t own ... we revisited the cinema.”

The theater, built in 1915, is located at 499 Exchange St. and is owned by Zurich Cinemas. It was used as a theater until 2005.

Long will lease about 8,000 square feet on the main level for the play space. Upstairs she’ll have room for a lounge or party area.

Long said the building needs little renovation, and with 20-foot ceilings, it’s a perfect space for her project.

“It’s huge, and it’s wonderful, and we think it would be a fabulous attraction downtown and something that’s really needed in this area,” she said.

Customers will be able to park in a large, existing lot behind the theater — Long  plans to renovate the back entrance — or on Exchange Street.

Inside, they’ll find an infant and toddler play area with a parent lounge. Long wants a quiet area for imaginative play, a climbing and slide area and a game room for older children.

An admission fee will be charged. In addition to single visits, Long plans to offer classes for kids and adults.

Moving to a new location meant a few changes to Long’s plans. The higher ceilings, for example, mean that she’ll probably add a rock-climbing wall.

But, “the main gist of the plan is the same,” she said.

Long’s husband, local architect Dan Long, will work with the city on any zoning or planning issues that need resolution. That will likely include a new sign for the marquee on the front of the building.

Dan Long said the renovations should total about $50,000 to $60,000. Interior walls will be removed, unifying the main theater space for the first time in some 30 years.

Two independent financers have signed on to help with the project, Rachel Long said, meaning she won’t need a bank loan.

“We’re doing it for much less than the original plan because it needs much less renovation,” she said.

The project already has a website up and running at Memberships are available and range from $90 to $250.

“I think this will not just add to downtown Geneva,” Rachel Long said. “I think this is going to add to the Finger Lakes region in general. This is what we need in the area for every parent, grandparent, caregiver. We need to be able to have our kids exercise, have fun and be safe.”

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