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Securing the KiMo

The KiMo Theatre has been boarded up since June 1 after its windows and doors were broken after a riot. There is a proposal to get metal shutters installed on the building.

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

The KiMo Theatre is one step closer to being more secure.

Albuquerque’s Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission on Wednesday approved an application for the installation of security shutters to be placed over all windows and doors at the KiMo. The application was filed in April – two months before vandals broke several of its windows after a peaceful protest over George Floyd’s death. The landmark’s doors and windows have been boarded up since.

The recommendation now heads to the State Historic Preservation Office, part of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

“Typically, the state takes the recommendation of the local commission,” said Shelle Sanchez, director of the city’s Cultural Services Department. “The windows and doors will stay boarded up. It’s prudent to keep them boarded up until we get through the process to know that everything is going to be protected. This will be a significant investment.”

An April letter sent to businesses near the KiMo served as notification that the theater was submitting the proposal.

“In recent years the KiMo has seen an alarming increase in vandalism at the theatre,” the letter said. “There have also been several instances where the homeless have been sleeping in the outer foyer/entrances of the theatre. We are especially concerned over the increasing number of small fires which have been started near the theatre.”

The Downtown landmark at Central and Fifth was damaged during a riot the night of May 31. The next day, crews cleaned up the aftermath.

It was the fourth time the windows were broken during this fiscal year.

“It was eight windows and three glass doors that were damaged during the riot,” Sanchez said. “To repair all the damage will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 just for that night.”

Workers clean up the aftermath on June 1, after rioters broke windows at many buildings Downtown, including the KiMo Theatre.

Adding to that was about $2,200 in cleanup, she said.

The money to repair the windows comes out of the KiMo’s budget, which usually pays for programming.

“We spend thousands (of dollars) on windows, and we have a tiny budget for the KiMo,” Sanchez said. “These kind of expenses we have to dig out of our budget. We’d rather put that money into programming.”

The proposal submitted to the commission sought exterior roll-up shutters, bronze in color to match the previously approved and installed grille at the outer lobby.

It also included a replacement door on Fifth NW because the existing door is a painted wooden door – not original. It will be replaced with a painted metal door to match the other service doors.

The commission did put some conditions on the approval, including keeping the building’s integrity in place.

“The installation of retractable security shutters will not damage any of the defining architectural details of the KiMo,” the approval said. “It is consistent with the designing ordinance as it is meant to protect the historic feature of the building.”

The commission also said that the proposal would cause no harm to the significance of the theater.

“At this time it will require the removal of the historic awnings,” the approval said. “However, it is the intention of the applicant to reinstall the awnings once the shutter housing has been installed so proper connections can be made.”

Sanchez said once approved by the state, it will then take about five weeks to get the shutters custom-made.

Boarded windows on the KiMo Theatre are expected to stay up until metal shutters are approved. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

“It’s hard to put the bars and metal gates on it,” Sanchez said. “Thankfully, they disappear visually. What’s most important for me is what happens inside. The KiMo is a space for bringing people together to share art and culture. We have to do the best to protect the outside and make sure the inside is just as protected.”

In 2017, a retractable gate was installed at the exterior ticket lobby at the KiMo.

On Thursday, a retractable gate was installed outside the KiMo Gallery, which has access to the KiMo Theatre.

“We were able to install this because the gallery isn’t part of the original building,” Sanchez said.

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