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Chateau to be performing art center

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The now-empty Chateau Theatre waits for its next occupant.
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The Chateau Theatre is going to be a multi-use performing arts center.

Rochester's Chateau Theatre Re-use Task Force is moving forward with that use in mind for the historic and iconic building on Peace Plaza. A consultant could in the coming months help the group explore opportunities for re-imagining the building.

The task force met Tuesday and discussed whether it would put out a public request for proposals seeking a consultant to help guide the historic preservation and re-use of the building , which the city acquired at the start of the year.

Steve Schmidt, who provides city staff support to the group, said Tuesday that Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede, who is chairman of the task force, had conducted a "straw poll" of task force members in February, and based on that poll, the group would pursue a multi-use performing arts use of the building.

Schmidt worked with City Clerk Aaron Reeves and task force member Patrick Seeb – who is also a staff member of the Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency – to create a draft request for proposals.

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That request asked for three primary services from consultants: surveys of six competing facilities with market research and benchmarking information; a projected utilization profile, artistic programming and operations vision; and a building program including stage and seating layout, site analysis and planning and historic elements and character.

After some discussion, the task force members agreed to narrow the scope of the request.

"This is very broad, what we're asking them to look at," said member Gregory Stavrou. "I look at the expertise around this table and I think that maybe it would be worth taking some time … and (seeing) if we can narrow things down a little bit, so that perhaps when we bring in a consultant we can be a bit more precise about what we're going for."

Seeb said he and the city's staff support would revamp the request for proposals. The group could move forward on some of the points included in the request but potentially have a consultant codify those points at a later time.

City Administrator Stevan Kvenvold updated the group on the potential for interim uses of the building . The city would save a large sum of money by insuring the building as "occupied" rather than "unoccupied," Kvenvold said.

With the consent of the task force, Kvenvold said the administrator's office would handle requests for interim uses of the Chateau and focus on single-day or short-term uses of the space. Requests for use, including from Mayo Clinic — which was a funding partner with the city in the building purchase — have been frequent.

More public input on the use of the building is intended later in the process, Seeb said. The group is considering an online survey, a video survey project and a Chateau Theatre open house. The open house might take place in May, during National Preservation Month.

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