New Owners Have Big Plans For Denton's Fine Arts Theater

An iconic Denton theater which has been out of business for decades is getting new life. The new owners of the Fine Arts Theater building have a lot of work to do.

Places like the building on Elm Street in Denton are hard to find, these days.

“You can’t see movies in old theaters like this anymore,” said Jason Reimer. “There are fewer and fewer every year."

Reimer is part of a partnership that sees the potential in the old theater on Denton's square. So they bought it.

“I like Denton a lot,” said Reimer, who lived in the North Texas city for a decade. “I loved my time here, so I think this is a super important cultural icon of the square.”

The Fine Arts Theater building went on the market last fall. For folks in Denton, the place – built in the late 1800s – holds a lot of memories.

“One of my earliest memories was seeing the movie Young Frankenstein here,” said Martin Iles, one of the partners in the theater restoration.

When it was listed, some prospective buyers has ideas to turn the place into apartments, retails, even a brewery.

“All those things, while I think they have their place in downtown, we wanted to do everything we could to ensure it was restored as a theater,” said Alex Payne, of Axis Realy Group of Denton.

Renovating the old building, which hasn't shown first-run movies since the early 1980s, is going to take some work. The roof is leaky, and the inside is worn. Repairs are expected to take at least eighteen months.

“There is some work to do,” said Iles. “But we're confident it can be done."

The crew behind it has plenty of experience. Reimer and Barak Epstein are partners in Aviation Cinemas – the group behind the restoration of Texas Theater in Dallas. The new owners hope to open what will be known as Texas Fine Arts Theater sometime in 2020. The theater will feature art house films, music, comedy and other live events.

“It’s kind of amazing to be involved in the restoration of such a special place and have your own memories to it,” said Iles.

Memories – expected to come alive – once again.

“I think the excitement to see something like that one the square is going to be pretty overwhelming,” said Reimer. “It will be exciting to see what that day's like."

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