City scraps plans for ruined Scott Theater sign

The City of Odessa will abandon plans to preserve the sign of the Scott Theater, after engineers deemed the art deco relic of a more vibrant downtown unsalvageable.

It’s a surprise the sign hasn’t collapsed already, city officials who examined the structure said. Metal was so rusted that a poke of a finger could puncture it. Bird feces and water combined over the years to corrode the sign itself.

“It’s amazing that we hadn’t got up one morning and found it laying in the street,” District 4 Councilman Mike Gardner said.

Demolition of the Scott Theater at 700 N. Texas Ave. is scheduled to begin soon and wrap up in May. That project, one of several in the area, is estimated to cost $365,000, which city officials hope to recoup with the sale of the lot.

Now, instead of donating the sign to an arts group, it will be torn down with the theater.

“Structurally, it cannot be salvaged,” City Engineer Yervand Hmayakyan said. City workers were not allowed to walk on top of the roof for fear of risking their safety.

The Scott opened in 1959 and operated until the 1980s, but it fell into major disrepair before the city acquired it through tax foreclosure in 2015.

Its roof had collapsed. Thousands of birds were nesting in the building. And several feet of standing water pooled near the stage.

The city in recent years has already committed to restoring downtown signs as part of a broader effort to redevelop the long-blighted area.

The “Cloth World” tower in front of the Pinkie’s on Maple Avenue is already being transformed into a public art project by The Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities

In addition, plans for the city-backed downtown hotel and convention center being built already call for restoring the Ector Theatre, including its sign.

Citing that work, District 5 Councilman Filiberto Gonzales said preserving parts of the Scott Theater is unnecessary.

“It’s a hazard; I think it’s a big risk,” Gonzales said. “I don’t think we need to save two signs from two theaters.”

The city owns the dilapidated Scott Theater and estimates it would cost about $365,000 to demolish the building.

BY MARK STERKEL
msterkel@oaoa.com