St. Paul to seek state money to renovate vacant Palace Theater

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St. Paul city officials are among those hoping for state funding to turn the long-vacant Palace Theater in St. Paul into a concert hall, the Pioneer Press reports.

An estimated $12 million is needed to renovate the former movie house, which was built in 1915. Project supporters said the theater, which has a 3,000-person capacity, could be reopened by 2015 under the same management that runs First Avenue in Minneapolis.

After a tour of the empty venue Monday with other officials, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman called the Palace Theater "the missing link in our cultural scene in downtown St. Paul."

Jerry Mickelson of Chicago-based concert promoter JAM Productions told the Pioneer Press that the mid-size Palace Theater would be the perfect size for concerts too big for First Avenue (1,600 capacity) in Minneapolis and too small for Roy Wilkins Auditorium (5,000 capacity) in St. Paul.

St. Paul City Arts Director Joe Spencer tells the paper that half of the $12 million in public funds would come from a state bonding request, which will soon be on its way to the state Legislature.

The project has the support of DFL Rep. Alice Hausman and DFL Sen. Sandy Pappas, both of St. Paul.

The Palace Theater was last used by the Brave New Workshop, which put on the performances in the venue's lobby from 2001-2005.

First Avenue announced earlier this month that it was buying St. Paul's famed Turf Club.

The Turf Club opened in the 1940s and has been a mainstay in the Twin Cities music scene since the 1990s.

The Current said that the much of the 350-person capacity rock club will remain the same, including the club’s name, the general aesthetic and the basement bar known as the Clown Lounge.

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