‘We want to restore it’: New owners of historic Nomar Theater say they want to help out the community

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After a lengthy bidding process on Friday, the Nomar Theater and the building next to it are in new hands.

The new owner who’s from Wichita hopes to restore and revitalize the two buildings for the north side community.

“We want to restore it, and we want to keep that historical beacon that it is, and it’s been for so many years,” said Gene Camarena, the new owner of the Historic Nomar Theater.

The theater and the building next to it were previously owned by the Basham family. Following the death of their father, the family decided it was time to let it go. The building is currently in shambles.

“We have a chance here to really show how unique and diverse Wichita is and preserving the Nomar plaza as a whole in its original state as much as we can, is key,” said Marin Garcia, community activist.

Camarena said they want to restore the building and have it set up as a resource for the community. A new nonprofit in Wichita called Empower Evergreen said it will help enhance the Hispanic community by providing different resources to people.

“We really want to make sure it is used for the community,” said Ariel Rodriguez-Williams, executive director at Empower Evergreen. “We want to make sure to have community input and that it provides quality of life in the north end.”

The new nonprofit will serve to connect local residents to a continuum of educational opportunities, work-readiness preparation, and small business development resources, in addition to the library and its computing services.

Program partners working in the new community center will be educational and community-based organizations providing a variety of services, resources, and educational programs in an area that has been under-served and experienced significant disinvestment over time. 

“Ultimately, it’s going to be a great investment in the community, and we are just glad to be a part of it,” said Camarena.

The two buildings sold for $300,000. Camarena said they will be transparent with the community as they work to restore the two buildings.

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