Fox Theatre

The Show Goes on for Small Town Historic Theater: a Tax Credit Success Story

May 26, 2022

The Fox Theatre in Atchison, Kansas originally opened in 1949. Unfortunately, they had to close their doors in 1985. Thankfully, the closure was not permanent and the theater reopened in the early 1990s as the Royal Theatre. Regrettably the doors closed once again in 2014. Then, in 2017, Theatre Atchison purchased the property with the intent to restore it to its historic roots as the Fox Theatre, bringing a movie venue back to Atchison.

Funding the Renovation

There were challenges to get the project properly funded. Roof leakage and environmental abatement needed to be addressed much sooner than the rest of the project could be funded and rehabilitated. This caused timing issues from a cost certification and preservation standpoint.

Due to the significant construction work completed in the 1990s, the building was no longer eligible for federal historic tax credits and the development team had to look elsewhere for tax breaks. After diligently exploring the options, the team learned the project was eligible for the Register of Historic Kansas Places, making state historic tax credits a possibility.


The Process

The roof leakage and environmental abatement issues needed to be addressed quickly, meaning it would require two phases of construction, which also meant two sets of historic tax credit applications and certifications.

MarksNelson compiled the schedules of costs and allocated costs as qualified/non-qualified, which were later submitted to the Kansas Department of Revenue for review. We helped prepare a budget of qualified rehabilitation expenditures (QREs), which are costs directly related to the repair or improvement of structural and architectural features of a historic building, based on the client's preliminary budget. This helped them essentially use it as collateral to obtain a loan to fund the project, which would then be paid off from the sale proceeds of the respective credits.

“MarksNelson was always really good about answering questions,” Theatre Atchison Executive Director Travis Grossman said. “They knew the ins and outs of it, so that we could get to where we wanted to be ascetically for the building but also monetarily with the return.

Fox Theatre Lobby


The Fox Theatre is a modernized movie theater in the heart of Atchison’s downtown district. The theater sold more than 45,000 tickets in 2019, their first year after reopening. Atchison is a community of less than 11,000 people.

“It’s important to them now as it was then,” Grossman said. “The kids that come in now, their parents, their grandparents had experiences here. It tugs at the heart strings.”

The project was honored in 2020 by the Kansas Preservation Alliance.

MarksNelson takes a lot of pride in helping bring historic buildings to life for communities. Reach out to us today to learn how we can help you leverage tax credits for your next historic project.

Woman rejoices at cliff


Subscribe to receive email updates intended to support your business operations, mitigate risk, and help you grow.