Duluth ready to raise curtain on restoration of historic NorShor Theatre

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If the anticipation of the NorShor Theatre's reopening had included a drumroll, there'd be some mighty tired wrists by now.

But backers of the project to revive the historic theater in downtown Duluth say that after five years of lining up funding, all the pieces of the $29.6 million financial puzzle are finally in place, Northland's NewsCenter reports.

City Administrator David Montgomery told city council members the sum was reached through a combination of state grants, historic preservation tax credits, money from the Duluth Economic Development Authority (DEDA), and private funds raised by the Duluth Playhouse – meaning the property taxes paid by Duluthians will be unaffected, FOX 21 says.

FOX says the final agreements will be presented to DEDA on Sep. 23 and to the city council on Sep. 28.

Montgomery said restoration of the 1926 theater can begin by the end of the year and is expected to take 20 months, the News Tribune reports.

As the project's website recounts, DEDA purchased the NorShor in 2010 to refurbish it as a cultural center for arts, dance, theater, and musical groups.

Two years later, it announced partnerships with the property development firm Sherman Associates and with the Duluth Playhouse, which plans to manage the 700-seattheater and be its primary tenant.

The NorShor's history

According to Zenith City.com, the NorShor was built as a service and office building to serve the neighboring Orpheum Theatre. But in a major renovation in 1941, the Orpheum's stage was moved next door and the Art Deco NorShor Theatre was created, Zenith City says.

In those days the NorShor was topped by a massive decorative tower (right) with the theater's name spelled out in neon lights, but Zenith City says that was removed in 1961.

The News Tribune says the NorShor continued to show first-run movies until 1982 and was sporadically used for various live events after that, including a stint as a strip joint.

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