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Dome Theater's fate still uncertain, says new owner

A 1,750-person theater on Main Street that has hosted the rock bands Alice in Chains and the Deftones this year sold for $85,000 during a tax foreclosure auction Wednesday, leaving the operator of the venue wondering what its future holds.

A Niagara Falls-based limited liability corporation, Main Street Properties, purchased the Dome Theater at 1711 Main St. during the city tax foreclosure proceeding in which more than 300 parcels were sold.

Kenneth Pawchulski, Main Street Properties chief executive officer, said the company would begin discussions about what to do with the property, but that it was too early to determine if the company would operate the site as a concert venue.

"There are no definite plans yet," Pawchulski said.

The company owns two other commercial parcels on Main Street and recently completed a $5 million renovation project to reopen two apartment buildings in the city that it purchased from a city foreclosure list in 2005.

"We see potential for all of Main Street," Pawchulski said.

The current operator of the theater, Ray Page, was in the third year of a five-year lease for the building. He holds a contract with a New York City promotions firm to bring concerts to the theater until September.

Page owns a stage and sound system in the building and holds the liquor license for the site. He had contacted city leaders in recent weeks in an attempt to get the building taken off the foreclosure list.

Page bid $50,000 for the theater during the auction Wednesday morning in which at least three people placed bids on the 19,260-square-foot building. "Whoever gets it has got to do a lot of work to the building," said Page, who hopes to work with the new owners to continue to operate the site.

Pawchulski said he would meet with Page. He expected it would take about four to six weeks before Main Street Properties obtains the deed to the building.

The previous owner, Robert D. Hyde, owed $57,724.70 in back property taxes on the building. He had purchased the site for $13,000 at a city foreclosure auction, City Administrator William Bradberry said.

Page reopened the theater three years ago and brought national names to the site after it was closed for several years. The theater opened in 1921 as a movie house and was known as Shea's Bellevue Theatre for decades. It later operated as the Late Show and Masquerades nightclubs.

Richards Hastings, who owns property on Main Street, including a patio adjacent to the theater, said he believes the $85,000 sale price Wednesday was a deal. "I think it went too cheap," Hastings said. "I see a future on Main Street. I really do."

e-mail: djewell@buffnews.com

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