Ready to use the Chateau Theatre? DMCC board authorizes $1 million to get things started
The Chateau Theatre could reopen its doors in 20 weeks.
While Rochester City Council and Heritage Preservation Commission approval still are needed, the Destination Medical Center Corp. board gave the nod Thursday to spend up to $1 million to support limited use of the historic theater.
"We would like to advance these improvements necessary to protect the building, to make some enhancements that are required anyway and ultimately to support interim use," said Patrick Seeb, DMC’s Economic Development Agency’s director of economic development and placemaking.
The money would be used for limited upgrades while discussions for full renovations continue. Initial work to be done includes removal of the escalator and the building’s second floor, along with restroom renovations and safety upgrades required to allow public access.
Before the DMCC board discussed the theater, Sankesh "Sunny" Prabhakar, a member of the Heart of the City Community Advisory Committee, urged action to make it usable for limited events.
"I had actually applied previously to use the space for a New Year’s event, but wisely the city said that’s not a good idea," he said during the meeting’s public comment period. Still, he said Rochester needs additional event space to attract new entertainment opportunities.
Although newly named DMCC Board Chairman R.T. Rybak supported the move, he said work needs to continue on a management strategy before too much money is spent.
"We need to not make huge capital investment until we know what will go in there," he said. He’d like to see a plan that ensures the theater would see daily activity with a variety of uses.
"That isn’t about the physical improvement," Rybak added. "That’s about a management strategy."
Seeb said options for a long-term management strategy are being discussed. For now, he said the city remains in control of managing the property.
The city purchased the Chateau Theatre in 2015 for $6 million, using a $500,000 contribution from Mayo Clinic.
On Thursday, Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede said he’d like to see efforts move more swiftly, but acknowledged time is needed to make sure things are done to provide the best outcome.
He noted that as many changes are made in the DMC footprint for visitors, the Chateau Theatre is something that is for the community in the heart of the city.
"It’s an important project," he said.