Renovations to historic theater wrapping up

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Bernalillo County sank millions of dollars into the historic Hiland Theater on Central in 2003 to buy it and fix it up. Then it passed the task of renovating the building onto the National Dance Institute of New Mexico. Now after more than four years, NDI New Mexico has made good on the agreement.

The Hiland Theater is the Albuquerque home of NDI New Mexico. The non-profit, which teaches kids lessons through dance, signed a long-term lease with Bernalillo County in 2009 agreeing to fix up the then run-down theater. At the time, the project raised some concerns.

“2009 was a challenging economic time for everyone, and I think embarking on an ambitious project like the renovation of the Hiland Theater was something that caused everyone to say, ‘Is it possible?’ ” NDI New Mexico Executive Director Russell Baker told News 13.

The answer is yes.

NDI New Mexico raised $13 million for the project. About $9.5 million went into revitalizing the property, creating several dance studios, office space and a performing arts theater that seats 600. The additional funding will go to take care of the property over the long term.

NDI New Mexico is also celebrating the non-profit’s 20th anniversary.

Baker says they plan to be in the Hiland Theater for a long time, and hope to be a positive influence on the surrounding area.

“A building like the Hiland Theater and an arts program can be like a pebble in the pond that creates a ripple effect into the neighborhood, and we’re starting to see change in the neighborhood already,” Baker said.

Baker said the final phase of renovations, which includes installing an elevator and floors into three dance studios, should be complete within 30 days.

Baker says 750 kids pass through the Hiland’s doors every week. He says with renovations wrapping up, they hope to bump that number up to 1,000.

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