An upcoming $ 14 million renovation project will stabilize the centuries-old Palace Theater in St. Paul with everything from roof repairs to new building systems, but it’s not a full historical restoration.
“It’s what we jokingly call ‘arrested degradation’,” says Ross Currier, project manager for the City of St. Paul, which is rebuilding the long-vacant building at 17 W. Seventh Place for a new use as a contemporary music venue.
“We’ll freeze it, fix leaks in the roof, but not restore any of the decorative elements. We believe this limited approach to renovation is … the most cost effective way to get the building back to contributing to St. Paul’s economy, ”he said.
The city is interviewing prospective site managers for the project and plans to select a company by the end of the week. Demolition and dismantling should begin in spring. Construction work will be completed in June 2016 when the building will be 100 years old.
Individual building offer packages will hit the streets this summer, Currier said.
The city has signed a purchase agreement to acquire the property and, according to the tender, wants to own it by the end of July. The city plans to negotiate an agreement with an external operator to operate the theater.
It is one of the few outdated theaters that are ready for new uses in the Twin Cities.
Elsewhere in St. Paul, for example, the Frogtown Neighborhood Association is planning to build the 100-year-old Victoria Theater at 825 University Ave. transform into a performing arts center.
In Minneapolis, local developer Andrew Volna plans to renovate the 80-year-old Hollywood Theater at 2815-2819 Johnson St. NE and market it to an “affordable commercial user, most likely a company that values creative space,” the city said.
As previously reported, Elion Partners of Florida paid $ 750,000 last year for the 98-year-old Suburban Theater at 3022 Hennepin Avenue in hopes of renovating the building and marketing it to a national retailer.
The renovated palace theater will become what the city will become “the only theater in the Twin Cities dedicated to contemporary pop music”. But first of all, a lot of repairs are required on a building that has been largely unused since 1984.
Currier said the building was in “pretty rough” condition after decades of deterioration.
The scope of the project includes “selected renovation”, interior renovation, roof repair, facade stability and the replacement of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems according to a request for quotation.
The project’s $ 13.9 million budget includes $ 10 million for construction, $ 2.59 million for furnishings and equipment, $ 1.2 million for soft costs, and $ 425,000 Dollars to buy real estate, according to the RFP.
The 2014 government bond bill included $ 5 million for the project. Other sources of funding include $ 8 million from the City of St. Paul and $ 1 million in private funding.
The palace opened for vaudeville performances in 1916. In the mid-1920s, the building became a cinema that continued to show films until it closed in 1984.
In the 1940s the palace was renovated with a new lobby and facade and the seats were reduced from 3,000 to 1,400.
The renovated building will be restored to its original capacity of 3,000 people. The building will have standing room, a balcony, legally compliant toilets, new bar areas and new rooms for backstage and front house operations.
One of the building’s neighbors is the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, who are excited about the progress of the project.
While it is good to see the building being refurbished for new entertainment purposes, the main thing is that it becomes part of the neighborhood again, said Will O’Keefe, the alliance’s real estate program coordinator.
“That’s the really exciting thing about the palace,” said O’Keefe.