YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation has acquired a former adult theater in Youngstown with a lot of history.
The Foster Theater on Glenwood Avenue was originally built in 1938 and began as a movie theater. As competition for theaters grew, the Foster transformed into a home for art films and later adult movies.
Dee Barber bought the Foster in 1994 and continued the operation until recently, according to YNDC.
Ian Beniston, the executive director for YNDC, explained the reasoning behind the purchase.
“We bought the building simply because we wanted to make it something productive. We didn’t want it to be a pornographic theater anymore. We’re standing a block from a neighborhood park,” said Beniston.
YNDC does a lot of work in the same area as the theatre. It’s all part of work to revitalize the greater Glenwood Avenue corridor.
They have a goal for the neighborhood and that’s to have an environment that everyone can take pride in.
“For a long time, for me at least, having a triple X theatre is a symbol of decline so we wanted to change that, so, you know, the first change is just owning the building,” Beniston said.
YNDC has completed renovations at a number of buildings on the same street. There is no set plan as to what the theatre will turn into, but they do want to make some changes.
“The plan really is to, at some point, renovate the building, figure out what a productive use for it would be. It may not be a theatre anymore, so it has to be something, of course, that will be financially sustainable,” Beniston said.
YNDC recently took off the previous words from the marquee and it now reads “revitalize.”
“We use the word ‘revitalize’ a lot because what revitalize means to us is maximizing your full potential right, so of course this building in its current state as a triple X theatre and a building that hasn’t seen much investment since it’s been built, it’s not maximizing its full potential. So that’s why we use that word, put that word up, plus we just wanted to show change,” Beniston said.
Beniston said it will take some time for the Foster Theatre to see renovations and set plans, but it will happen.
“Everyone that knows us knows that we do what we say we will do and eventually we’ll be standing here again and the building will be in a much different condition,” he said.