BY JOHN K. MANNA JMANNA@NCNEWSONLINE.COM
Despite its continuing decline, the former Elks building in downtown New Castle has another interested buyer. This time it's a film company in California looking to relocate to New Castle. "That would actually be our home studio," Silk Alderette said of the building at the corner of North Mill and Falls streets. Alderette and her husband, Kixx, are owners of Tri-Cinema Inc., a film production company that has been in existence since last year and one, she said, that is oriented toward family entertainment. "We want to restore the Elks building to its original condition," she said. "It's going to take a lot of money, but we have film investors." City council is expected to vote on a resolution Thursday directing the solicitor to draw up an agreement with Tri-Cinema for the purchase and restoration of the property. The city received a proposal last year from local developer Gale Measel to buy the building, but officials didn't agree with some of his conditions. Among the items they objected to were his proposal to pay the city $1,000 to secure the building for 18 months while he explored development possibilities and his condition that the city pay taxes, utilities and insurance on the building during that period. Council discussed Tri-Cinema's proposal in executive session Tuesday night. Business administrator Tammi Gibson said the resolution will contain conditions that Tri-Cinema will have to meet, including assuming liability. An ordinance will later be drafted to transfer the property, she said. So how did Tri-Cinema decide on New Castle? Alderette said they want to do some filming in an area with Victorian homes in the eastern part of the country because their actors are out of New York. "It gets expensive to fly in and out of California," she said. They did a search on the Internet for communities with Victorian homes and found New Castle listed in the top 100 in the country. Although other Pennsylvania towns such as Oil City were listed, she said they liked the name New Castle. "New Castle seemed to be a nice fit." She contacted the city about two months ago and learned of the availability of the Elks building. Noting she has a degree in engineering, Silk Alderette said their plans are to restore the entire structure, starting with the exterior and then the ballroom and the third floor, which would house the screening room. While a large part of the building is in disrepair, Mayor Wayne Alexander has singled out the roof, saying it needs to be stabilized. If the deal between Tri-Cinema an the city can be worked out, Alderette said, plans are to do some filming in New Castle. Currently, they are in the midst of filming "Rock Me 3 X", which, she said, stands for "Rock Me Three Times," a movie about three generations of rock and roll.