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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Forest Theater: Group looks to restore South Dallas staple

The theater’s tall green marquee and bright red ball are signature to the theater’s identity as an anchor in South Dallas.

DALLAS — Plans are in the works to revitalize the historic Forest Theater in Dallas.

The theater’s tall green marquee topped with a bright red ball are signature to the theater’s identity as an anchor in South Dallas. The building has been vacant for years. 

Now, there is a push to make that change, by bringing the building back to life.

“It’s an exciting day for the people of South Dallas,” Councilman Adam Bazaldua said as he addressed a crowd gathered to see plans to revitalize Forest Theater on Friday.

The nonprofit Forest Forward revealed its plans to restore the theater and revitalize the community. 

Plans include transforming the old theater into a new arts and community hub. Dallas ISD students will have access to multiple rooms and rehearsal labs. Plans also include music bays, design studios and conference spaces for public use.

“I am for redevelopment, because I do believe that vitalizing your own neighborhood is a good thing,” said Ann Williams, founder of Dallas Black Dance Theater.

The restoration project will include 45,000 square feet of space. The new Forest Theater will also include state of the art amenities, a new restaurant, green space outdoors and a rooftop café.

Many neighbors remember the once-segregated theater in Dallas became a go-to spot for Black performers and patrons. The Forest was a place to catch feature films. 

The venue attracted a variety of national acts. Over the years, the building was used as a theater, club, concert hall and more.

Forest Forward is now in the middle of an aggressive fundraising campaign to put a spotlight on its restoration plans.

“We’re raising $75,215,000 to bring health, life and a vibrant community back to South Dallas,” said Elizabeth Wattley, president and CEO of Forest Forward.

With a variety of community partners, organizers believe the vision is possible.

“When the marquee illuminates, my biggest hope is that the community will know that they are worth the investment,” Wattley said.

For more information on the plans to restore Forest Theater, visit https://www.forestforward.com/

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