UPDATE: Waverly Palace Theatre announces permanent closure - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Waverly Palace Theatre announces permanent closure

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UPDATE: Gary Nelson, President of Phoenix Theaters released a statement on the decision to abruptly close Palace Theatre in Waverly.

It reads: 

"It has been announced with much sadness that the Palace Theater here in Waverly will be closing the business effective Monday, February 19th.

Back in 1999 the antiquated theater building was acquired and underwent a major renovation to resurrect the one time cornerstone of the downtown area on Bremer Avenue.  “The project was taken on in hopes of being a springboard for further development in the downtown area”, states Gary Nelson, President of Phoenix Theaters the owner of the Palace. “Back in the 90’s the theater was identified as a key component of helping to jumpstart renewed interest in downtown development.  The building and the theaters themselves had deteriorated to the point that there was only one working speaker in the main auditorium.”

The renovation created a new front lobby, main floor bathrooms, all new state of the art sound and projections systems and added a third screen to the building.  Unfortunately, the success of the renovation was short lived.  “The 2008 flood here in Waverly inundated the building with flood waters and forced the closing of the theater for a couple of months.  Once it reopened 30% of the business just never returned, states Nelson.  Shortly after the flooding, the industry moved to digital distribution of movies which made film on reels obsolete.  New digital projection equipment was necessary to remain in the business and was invested in and installed.”

“The theater has continually struggled to cash flow and the Bremer Avenue reconstruction this past summer dropped business an additional 30% right during the peak spring/summer season and added to the struggle, Nelson said.  The digital world is changing how consumers are getting their entertainment.  Movie attendance in Waverly is half of what it was 15 years ago and it becomes increasingly difficult to operate a viable business.  It becomes a vicious cycle of needing to keep the theater current and up to date but trying to do so with a dwindling level of support, Nelson explains.  It really gets to a point where financially you can’t be proud of the product we are putting out there for the community”.

“Conversations over the past couple of years have centered on whether the Waverly community even wants a local theater, according to Nelson.  Could the community get behind a “community theater” that might be owned by a non-profit type of community group?  I don’t know the answer to that but for now the theater will be closed and the building/business will be put up for sale”.

“To me this is a sad day for the city of Waverly, states Nelson.  Hopefully, something can come along that can utilize this historic building in downtown Waverly”. 


Waverly Palace Theatre announced on Facebook that they are permanently closed.

The theatre posted on Facebook, explaining why they closed. Below is what they posted: 

1) Why is it closing

The theater is having trouble cash flowing due to low volumes of customers. It is no longer viable to operate under its current business structure.

2) Is it for sale?

The future of the building and the business will be evaluated as to potential interest from any private buyer or a public group that might come forward. At this time there is no concrete plan and ownership is open to discussion about the future of this important downtown building and/or business.

3) What do I do with passes that I currently have?

We can no longer honor outstanding passes as the theater is broke and there are no more plans to be open under this structure of operation.

4) What will happen to this building?

At this time there are no concrete plans. It is a very unique building with some significant unique internal structure as a theater.

Click here to see the post.

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