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Squatters take over old Huntridge Theater

Posted at 11:28 AM, Oct 03, 2015
Two groups have been trying to revitalize Huntridge Theater for years. Squatters and trash surrounding the abandoned building are making that difficult.
 
"At one time, a high pressure nozzle wouldn't even clean this up the right way," said Owen Messinger.
 
Messinger has seen it all. 
 
"The city declared it a health hazard on Sept. 9."
 
He's lived behind the Huntridge Theater for 35 years.
 
"The theater was fun, the neighbors loved the theater," said Messinger.
 
But 60 years of fun came to an end when the theater closed down in 2004. Instead of concerts and shows, it quickly became a homeless hangout.
 
"In the last five years, it degenerated tremendously," he said.
 
On any given night, Messinger says he can walk by and find up to a dozen people sleeping around the theater. Sometimes even inside the theater if they can find a way in.
 
"Annoying because you feel unsafe, annoying because if the city can declare it a health hazard, how do you think we feel?"
 
Two groups have been working for years to bring back life to the theater. They have been trying to raise millions of dollars to reopen Huntridge. But the trash, clothes, and even human waste aren't helping their cause making it difficult to find investors.
 
"I was in favor of any way they could reopen it. Whoever. Because the minute they reopened it, there would be life in the neighborhood. The potential here has always been unlimited," he said.
 
But Messinger says he will keep trying, hoping to one day see change.
 
"It's just uh, it's totally deteriorated. And public safety is a concern, public health is a concern, that's all we can say."