Serving the High Plains

$1M urged in capital outlay request for Princess Theatre

A board wanting to restore the long-closed Princess Theatre in downtown Tucumcari advocated requesting $1 million in capital outlay funds from state Sen. Pete Campos and the New Mexico Legislature during the 2024 session.

Also, city manager Paula Chacon and board member Matt Monahan will negotiate with Stantec Engineering to reduce the cost of the first two phases in assessing the theater and renovation designs so it is “shovel ready” for the construction phase.

The City of Tucumcari during the 2023 legislative session received $250,000 in capital outlay money for the theater. Campos, a Democrat from Las Vegas, has pledged to Mayor Ralph Moya he would urge additional such funds for the project.

During the first Princess Theatre meeting in several months on Thursday, Chacon said the city will receive the $250,000 and an agreement from the state within two to three weeks.

Moya said Campos told him the Princess Theatre board and the city need to begin planning what to do with the theater so they would be in better position to receive more capital outlay funds.

Stantec last month sent the city an estimate for architectural and design services for the theater over three phases that would total more than $630,000.

Monahan noted fees for the first two phases of the proposal totaled about $460,000. He advocated negotiating that down. Other board members noted unnecessary services such landscaping design in the estimate.

Monahan said if work begins on those first two phases, the board could present another capital outlay request to Campos for the actual construction.

Tucumcari MainStreet Director Connie Loveland noted renovations of the Princess Theatre were projected to cost $1.2 million seven years ago. That could be $3 million or more now.

Board members advocated the $1 million request because that could jump-start renovations. Construction could be completed over multiyear phases.

The board also can look for grants and matching funds from other entities. Loveland said New Mexico MainStreet also can offer some services for free or deeply discounted prices.

Chacon said she would check to see if and when the Princess Theatre had undergone asbestos remediation and a structural assessment. Moya said he recalled asbestos work being performed years ago and at least two structural assessments.

The Princess was built by Arch Hurley and partner Gene Hawkins as the H-H Theatre in 1917. It was renamed the Princess Theatre a few years later.

The theater closed in 1962 after a fire and never reopened. The city eventually acquired the property and installed a new roof on the structure in 2016 to slow its deterioration.

The Princess Theatre board’s next meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sept. 7 at City Hall.