A peek behind the curtain in Church Hill

east end theater

The theater has been quickly filling with tenants, Bilder said. Photos by Katie Demeria.

With its apartments nearly full and its commercial space set to debut next month with a new restaurant, the recently renovated East End Theater is in full swing.

Developer Josh Bilder was behind the $4 million project, which wrapped up last summer. It added 22 apartments and 3,500-square-feet of commercial space to the historic theater at 418 N. 25th St.

Within a month of its completion, the property reached 90 percent occupancy, Bilder said. And he expects his commercial tenant, Liberty Public House, to move in by the end of March.

“I’m ecstatic,” Bilder said. “The reaction has been very positive.”

The building's lobby hearkens back to its past.

Decor in the building’s lobby hearkens back to its past.

He added that the apartments are renting higher than he expected, at around $1.75 per square foot – about a dollar higher than most nearby properties. The properties come in at an average of 700 square feet, most of them one-bedroom units, with four two-bedrooms and two studios.

J.D. Lewis Construction Management was the general contractor, while New York-based architect Sebastian Quinn and St. Lewis-based Lawrence Group designed the project. Draper Aden Associates did the engineering work.

Leslie Jeter of Draper Aden said the property was in “rough, rough shape” before work started, but that the shell was good. The property was constructed in 1910, according to city records.

Jeter noted his father grew up in the neighborhood and went to the property when it was still a functioning theater. Now, he added, the area “feels alive.”

“The flavor of the neighborhood has changed,” he said. “The activity of Main Street is coming this way. It feels like it’s coming alive.”

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