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Future of abandoned theatre unclear
ALMOST four years to the day since the roof of the Nicosia Municipal theatre collapsed, and two years after the municipality first sued for negligence, the building is still standing derelict and not one of the three lawsuits taken out has been resolved.
The municipality had spent €5.6 million refurbishing the building only two-and-a-half years before the roof collapsed on June 11, 2008, just a day before hundreds of school children were to use the space for an end-of-year performance.
By chance, the national theatre company THOK which used the building was away for rehearsals and on one was harmed.
The fact the theatre was empty was unusual as it was booked to host events almost every night that month.
The lawyers representing the Nicosia municipality told the Sunday Mail this week they believe it will be another two years before any of the three cases are near completion.
The municipality hopes to get €3.0 million in compensation.
A fact-finding report on the collapse said that the roof could have given way at any moment because the steel substructure of the roof could not take even “a relatively minor additional load”. It had been renovated two and a half years before it caved in.
Nicosia mayor at the time, Eleni Mavrou had said that to her knowledge no structural work had been done on the roof itself save to replace the false ceiling.
The report said the steel structure “left no margin of difference between strain and resistance,” a fact which could be considered as “the main cause for the collapse”.
Nicosia municipality proceeded with three separate law suits against the architectural surveyor, civil engineers and the contractor commissioned to do the refurbishment, A. Panayides company.
The Attorney-general Petros Clerides said that no criminal liability could be established from the report and Nicosia municipality proceeded on its own to take legal action.
In the meantime, the building which lies just across the municipal museum and is next door to the House of Representatives, stands empty and no plans for its future have been taken.
“The municipal council will examine all facts and decide,” Nicosia’s communications officer, Makis Nicolaides, said this week.
Although THOK has its theatre building now, the municipality is still considering using the building as a municipal theatre – as it was used before the roof’s collapse.
In addition to THOK’s new theatre, there are the on-going plans for the Cyprus Cultural Centre which critics have said has too large a capacity for Nicosia.
Another possibility, which had been favoured by Mavrou, the previous mayor, is to transform the space into an open air auditorium for performances and screenings.
The theatre building extends into the public park behind the House and could serve as a focal point in the event that Nicosia is chosen as the European Cultural Capital in 2017.
By then, perhaps, all legal cases surrounding the building will be concluded.