Marquee revamp conveys sign of Uptown's progress in Oklahoma City

Published: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 7:00 am By: Steve Lackmeyer

The Oklahoman

The smashed marquee at the Tower Theater is gone and the letters are back in place - a hint that renovations are finally getting under way at the Uptown landmark.

Owner Marty Dillon said months of delays are over and the marquee will soon return, fully restored. His family's company, Party Galaxy, is preparing to move into 3,000 square feet of renovated space on the second floor of the building at 528 NW 23.

"Everybody wants to see progress before they decide anything when it comes to leasing," Dillon said. "I think the sign will be the first step in making that happen."

Dillon said the $2.5 million renovation will include the facade of the theater and adjoining storefronts. Talks, meanwhile, are under way with potential restaurant operators for the first floor. Future use of the former theater space won't be decided until a restaurant operator is chosen, Dillon said.

"If a restaurant operator wants to take on the whole facility, they can lease that, as well as restaurant space," Dillon said. "Or Uptown Development (Dillon's development company) is willing to manage and run the theater space. It can run either way."

Dillon is continuing to work with former MidTown developer Greg Banta, who admits leasing in the current economy isn't easy. But he's confident that with successful development at NW 23 and Shartel, where Cuppies and Joe is the neighborhood rage, and continued success at NW 23 and Hudson with Cheevers, the Uptown area's resurgence is in full swing.

He notes yet another restaurant, Big Truck Tacos, is scheduled to open this summer in another Dillon property at NW 23 and Dewey, across the street from the Tower Theater.

"We have a lot of interest in this space," Banta said. "But we're looking for something that will be unique. This whole area is starting to come around."

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