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Mayor Parker celebrates groundbreaking for revived Deluxe Theater in Fifth Ward

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Gutted historical Deluxe theater to be revived. Ground-breaking ceremony at 3303 Lyons Ave near Gregg St, Houston Fifth Ward Feb 17 2014
Gutted historical Deluxe theater to be revived. Ground-breaking ceremony at 3303 Lyons Ave near Gregg St, Houston Fifth Ward Feb 17 2014
Marc Pembroke
Mayor Parker at groundbreaking for Deluxe Theater project Feb 17 2014
photo by Marc Pembroke

On Monday, February 16 at a groundbreaking ceremony at 3303 Lyons near Gregg, Mayor Annise Parker, Council Member Jerry Davis, Former Council Member Jarvis Johnson, and Fifth Ward CRC member Rev. Harvey Clemons joined more than dozen stakeholders in breaking ground on the renovations of the historic Deluxe Theater.

Mayor Parer stated that the building was a popular moving theater from 1928 to 1969. It became the hub of community activities and commerce, but, like many other theaters, it closed as entertainment patterns changed. The theater was briefly revived as an art gallery, which also failed.

Nevertheless, local leaders, including Reverend Harvey Clemens, continued to promote the concept of reviving the theater and the surrounding neighborhood. He encouraged the plan, along with many other projects such as replacement of dilapidated structures with affordable housing through the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation. For more than 20 years he and his associates championed revival of the Deluxe theater.

During the administration of Mayor White, Council Member Jarvis Johnson of District B, which included the Fifth Ward before and after redistricting, promoted an earlier plan. Architectural renderings were produced, but the project never went forward. Both White's and Johnson's terms ended due to term limits, but Mayor Annise Parker, revived the plan at the urging of Jerry Davis, Jarvis' successor on the council.

Despite the long process of initial plans, Mayor Parker stated that once the decision had been made and all the parties were committed, the process moved forward relatively quickly. A major factor was the support of Texas Southern University, which made a commitment to offer courses and produce plays at the site. Dr. Sunny E. Ohia, TSU Chief Academic Officer explained the plan for programming. By creating a destination for study and entertainment, creating jobs and related positive activities, the revived Deluxe Theater can become a focal point for further redevelopment of the neighborhood.