BY BRIAN McGILLIVARY
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Volunteers are lining up the candy bars and testing the popcorn machine because the Bijou by the Bay will screen its first movie today.
The Grand Traverse County building inspector arrived shortly after 10 a.m. today and, an hour later, contractor Thom Darga had the final approval necessary to gain an occupancy permit for the Traverse City Film Festival's new theater. Workers took just eight weeks to gut the 78-year-old Con Foster Museum building and convert it into a modern art-movie house.
"We took it from a derelict, unused building to a finely tuned ship," Darga said. "There are a lot of people responsible for this, ... and now they are putting the polish on the polish."
Darga said inspectors held him to the letter of the law but bent over backwards to accommodate their tight timeline.
Workers began the first week in June and gutted the building, which included tearing out a rotting roof and digging a new floor to provide a slope for movie screenings.
"The Spectacular Now" will grace the new movie screen beginning at 8 p.m. tonight in a gala fund-raiser for the Film Festival. The new year-round theater will then get a day-off before it begins showing festival films at 9 a.m. Wednesday.