What Should Happen to the Liberty Theater Downtown?

Some local residents say it's a victory, but some City of Amarillo officials aren't so sure. NewsChannel 10's Kristen Guilfoos was at the meeting on Thursday to discuss the future of the old Liberty Theater building in Downtown Amarillo.

Keith Jones has spent the past few years researching the Old Liberty Theater. "It's a diamond in the rough."

A diamond he wants to help make shine even brighter. "It's the only theatre in the twenties that allowed blacks to enter. It was built by two Jewish men, which was rare in Amarillo."

And after Tuesday's meeting with the Board of Review for Landmarks and Historical Districts, it looks like he will get the chance to do it.

The board voted unanimously against the city's recommendation to knock it down and build a parking lot. Keith and others who are interested in the project have one year to put a plan together.

Melissa Dailey, with Downtown Amarillo Inc. says, "It is a fully viable building and it can be restored."

The city sees it quite differently, saying it poses a serious safety concern. The City's Building Official says, "The balcony is not stable and could collapse at any point in time. The roof is not structurally sound."

Structural issues aside, there's one more thing that comes into play... The money needed to restore it. Jones says, "I don't think we'll have any problems coming up with 400 or 500 thousand dollars."

Once again, the city sees it quite differently. McDonald says, "If it wasn't realistic back in 2005 when the economy was in a boom, then I  just see it being another vacant building in the City of Amarillo."

The vote may have been cast on Thursday, but the Liberty Theater debate is far from over. The City can appeal the board's decision and will most likely discuss doing so in a meeting next week.