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Redevelopment Authority ‘chipping away’ at Penn Theater

The Butler Redevelopment Authority recently repaired a roof leak at the Penn Theater, which it has owned since 2009. Butler Eagle file photo

The Penn Theater recently had some roof repairs done.

Veronica Walker, executive director of the Butler Redevelopment Authority, said at a Thursday meeting that maintenance crews had repaired a new leak on the roof, which had added to the building’s structural problems.

“It’s getting very dicey putting any weight on that roof,” Walker said.

The Redevelopment Authority has owned the Penn Theater, 149 N. Main St., since 2009. The art deco theater, opened in 1938, seated up to 1,100 moviegoers and was cooled with large fans blowing over cold well water until its closure in 1991.

Brian McCafferty, chairman of the Redevelopment Authority, said the building is one the authority hoped to rehabilitate.

“This is the last piece of the puzzle of properties we are getting rid of,” he said. “It’s a situation from years and years ago we are trying to get out of. It’s a very difficult situation, but we are chipping away at it.”

In 2009, the Butler Redevelopment Authority borrowed $290,000 from the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation to buy the building. McCafferty said potential buyers have expressed interest in acquiring the Penn Theater, but the redevelopment authority must make more payments to the mortgage holder before making an agreement.

“The mortgage is being held by an entity in Pittsburgh that we can’t seem to work with,” McCafferty said. “We have had several people over the years that have been interested in making that purchase, but they won’t budge on the money owed.”

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