Construction work to replace the flat part of the roof on the historic Saenger Theatre in downtown Pine Bluff is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

Construction work to replace the flat part of the roof on the historic Saenger Theatre in downtown Pine Bluff is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

A couple of blocks of Pine Street in front of the building will be blocked off during the construction, which is estimated to take seven to 10 days, Inspection and Zoning Department Director Robert Tucker told the Pine Bluff Historic District Commission at its monthly meeting on Friday.

The project is estimated to cost $32,000-$36,000, Tucker said. Funding sources include: $16,000 in General Improvement Fund contributions from four area state legislators; $15,000 in city funds; and $5,000 from Old Town Theatres Centre Inc.

The Pine Bluff City Council voted on Jan. 3 to accept ownership of the theater and a neighboring annex building from the nonprofit organization Old Town Theatres Centre Inc., which conducted a fundraising campaign during most of 2011 in an attempt to raise the money to replace the roof, but was not able to raise the full amount needed.

Supporters saw the transfer of ownership to the city and the infusion of city funds as a way to get the project started quickly. The theater’s supporters have said that if the roof is not replaced soon, the building will be lost. Restoring the theater to usability would take millions of dollars, but supporters hope that repairing the roof will prevent further decay to the structure and buy time for additional funding sources to be located.

Tucker said Friday that the title transfer and finalization of the shift of ownership was underway and that a pre-construction meeting had been held the previous week.

Reynolds Construction Co. Inc. of White Hall is performing the work at a below-market rate. Tucker said they have already ordered the membrane that will be used to water-seal the roof and it is expected to arrive this weekend.

In giving the theater the city, Old Town Theatres Centre Inc. retained a role as fundraiser and advocate for the theater. Old Town also an option to manage the day-to-day operations of the theater if the goal of restoring it to functionality is reached.

According to the agreement struck between the city and Old Town, the city will create a 15-member board of trustees to govern the property. The board will include six nominees of Old Town. The mayor or his delegate will serve as an ex officio member.

Tucker said he would like to investigate funding sources to conduct an in-depth engineering study of the building.

In other business, the commission:

• Heard an update from Tucker that work on the interior of the Civil War-era Boone-Murphy House will begin in a couple of weeks. Work on the building’s exterior was completed in 2011, and work in its interior to return it to habitability will be conducted in two parts over the next two years.

• And were approached by Downtown Development Executive Director Joy Blankenship about the need to take down one of the murals in downtown Pine Bluff that is separating from the wall it was painted on and is posing a safety hazard. No one could immediately think of a potential source of funding to have the mural removed, but Tucker and the commissioners said they would investigate.