Duluth's Last Historic Theatre on Fast Track to Renovations

By KBJR News 1

December 18, 2012 Updated Dec 19, 2012 at 1:55 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - NorShore Theatre restoration project partner The Duluth Playhouse has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, which officials say will go toward making high–quality arts experiences more accessible.

An additional $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation will go toward defraying costs for renovations.

According to Duluth Mayor Don Ness, 10s of millions of dollars have already been invested into the area of downtown Duluth in which the historic theatre resides, and the restoration will only reinforce that commitment to arts and entertainment.

"To see the NorShore poised for revitalization is really going to be the foundation for the success of that area of downtown for years to come," said Ness.

The other project partner—real–estate developer Sherman Associates, which is also responsible for renovations to the Greysolon Plaza and the development of the Sheraton hotel in Duluth—has been granted $10 million in New Markets Tax Credits in an effort to boost incentive for new businesses in the location.

According to company President George Sherman: "We are truly grateful for the financial commitment from these three sources... we look forward to getting underway and restoring the NorShor to its rightful place in Duluth's cultural community."

But Ness added that it's important to remember the businesses that the restoration will hopefully keep out.

"This theatre was a strip club with gang activity and drug activity happening there, and [we're going] to turn it into the premiere showcase in our community, and something that we'll all be able to be proud of and will be a center for a lot of positive activity in our downtown," said Ness.

And what is the primary goal?

According to Duluth Playhouse Artistic and Executive Director Christine Gradl Seitz, the mid–sized venue will be a perfect fit for a wide range of Northland arts groups.

"We've been in conversation with our arts friends for well over a year now to understand their needs and desires for a space like this. We're very excited—it's very promising," said Seitz.

...news that's also promising for the Playhouse itself, as Seitz says the theatre could also become a new venue for the organization.

Construction on the theatre is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2013.

posted to the web by Billy Wagness