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Deadline Passes for Marianne Theater Proposals

She stands out significantly among the rest. Her iconic look brings a unique character to the Bellevue's Fairfield Avenue. And, she’s often described as the quaint river city’s gem.

Her name? Marianne.

The city is on the quest to restore this breathtaking lady to her full glory. The deadline for developers to submit proposals for the art deco theater passed on Friday.

“The Marianne adds a lot to the business district,” City Administrator Frank Warnock said. “It’s a pleasant building to be around and people enjoy it.”

That’s why, he said, the proposals must include the preservation of the facade.

“A lot of people have fond memories of the theater,” Warnock said. “When I moved to Bellevue in 1984, seeing a movie there was the first thing I did in the city. We’re hoping someone will step forward and rehab the structure so future generations can enjoy it.”

The theater opened in 1942, seating 542. The front facade is art deco style at its best, according to CinemaTreasures.com. The site gives a detailed description of how “in the middle it curves in and is lined with blue tiles and in the center a column of red comes down from the roof to the top of the marquee. 

“Two cream colored columns line the sides of the concave. On each side of the concave the front is a flat surface with orange toned brick from the top to about two feet from the bottom and then is finished in a red polished brick.”

The doors still each have a half moon glass in them. Small mosaic tiles line the walls around the entrance doors and the box office. 

The doors however have remained closed, except for brief film production and a few tours, since the turn of the millennium. 

The city purchased the building in 2014. The goal was to turn the structure over to a developer. 

“Two different groups had great ideas but were unable to fund the projects,” Mayor Charlie Cleves said. “They finally gave up and walked away.”

Jan. 1, Cleves took the office of mayor and sees the theater as a cost burden, and he wanted to relieve the city from it.

“There’s lots of costs going into this with insurance,” he said. “The city has taken this on for a long time. We’d like to see that turn around and see the theater become an asset that brings money into the city instead of taking from it.”

Cleves said the city is looking for someone who can fund a project, preserve the “beautiful front that people love”, and add to the business district.

The middle of the month came and went without any proposals but Warnock said there have been requests for additional information. It is unclear how many proposals, if any, were received by Friday's deadline.

If there were proposals, they will be reviewed by the city which will determine whether there is interest in moving forward. Then, the city will go into competitive negotiations, reach an agreement, and work on a development agreement.

Marianne is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places and is eligible for tax credits. The 6,900-square-foot structure stands at 609 and 611 Fairfield Ave.

Written by Melissa Reinert, RCN contributor