Renovation continues to restore Royal Knight Theater

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz The original brick from the old J.C. Penny in Alpena is being exposed, as crews tear down the facade off the former Royal Knight Theater. Owner Jeff Konczak said the brick will be restored and the interior completely redone. He said the goal is to begin showing movies in the new theater in the spring.

The renovation project to restore the former Royal Knight Theater in Alpena is well on its way and as contractors peel away the deteriorating facade from the building, the original brickwork has begun to appear.

When completed, the entire building will be renovated, and the brick walls restored to as close as perfect as possible.

Owner and developer Jeff Konczak said it is exciting to see the original brick being revealed and he can’t wait for the facility, which will be a movie theater, to return to its old glory when it was a J.C. Penny store many years ago.

“It has been covered up for almost 50 years. They weren’t washed or maintained at all, so when that happens, it is going to look incredible,” he said.

He said crews have been working hard and soon new windows will be installed and work done to restore the brick. After that, Konczak said work will begin on remodeling the interior of the theater.

Courtesy Photo The original exterior of the Royal Knight Theater.

“It will have the same layout as before, but the entire place will be gutted, and then we are going to redo everything,” he said. “There are 441 seats in there, but we are considering putting in larger, more lounge-like seating. That will reduce the capacity some, but will be more comfortable.”

Konczak said there will also be a new roof put on the structure, as well as a new HVAC system to heat and cool the building. He said he hopes to have the exterior work done before winter arrives, because the needed work indoors should be able to be done by spring, when he wants to open.

“We have a very short timeline to get this done, but I want to be open and playing movies again as soon as possible and I think the people in the area do too.”

Konczak also purchased the State Theater and will transform it back to its original design when it was the Maltz Opera House and make it a community theater.

That project is larger and more costly, but financing is in place thanks to Northland Credit Union who is backing the project.

Konczak said it could take a few years to complete the refurbishing project of the old theater because he wants to make it as a complete replica of the old theater.

He has asked the public who has any photos of the Maltz Opera House or items from it to share them with him, so he can use them to design and decorate the theater.


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