Mayor hopeful renovations could begin on Chateau by the end of the year
The Chateau Theatre Reuse Task Force was created to guide the vision for development and restoration of the historic downtown theater — and the 12-member board is gradually making progress with that mission.
Earlier this year, the city closed on the purchase of the building, which most recently had been a Barnes & Noble bookstore.
“The task force has landed on the idea that this will be a multipurpose performing arts center,” said Patrick Seeb, the director of economic development and placemaking for DMC and a member of the task force. “It will be a venue that will serve many different audiences.”
In coming to that conclusion, the task force toured two other facilities: the Paramount Theatre in St. Cloud and the Sheldon Theatre in Red Wing. Now, the city hopes to bring in a consultant to guide the task force through technical requirements and renovations necessary to make the theater a viable multiuse venue.
Those recommendations will include steps to undo changes that were made to the building during its life as a bookstore, including removing the second story, rebuilding the balcony, adding green rooms for performers and restrooms and making the space ADA compliant.
According to Mayor Ardell Brede, who appointed himself chair of the board, the task force hopes to submit a request for proposals to historic restoration consultants in the next week or two.
Brede said a recent story in the Star Tribune has ignited widespread interest in the project. “I had heard that we had 30 companies express interest in responding to an RFP.”
While the focus thus far has been on the performing arts, that likely won’t be the sole use for the space. “Mayo no doubt will be a major user of the facility,” Brede said. The clinic put $500,000 toward the $6 million purchase of the Chateau.
Even with a tentative plan for the building, much uncertainty remains. The task force will dissolve after two years, but there isn’t a set timeline for the theater’s reopening.
“At this point we need to know how much space we’re dealing with in order to further discuss what multiuse options may be,” said Jim Fricker, who serves as on the task force. “For example, in the theater’s current state, it’s difficult to tell how much space will be left as a backstage area, and how much space will be occupied with new seating.”
Mayor Brede said the process is going slower than he would like. However, he's hopeful that renovation work could begin late this summer or fall with the potential for a grand opening in late 2017. “The hope is that we move forward as fast as we can while still being thorough," he told us.
The city council will discuss the Chateau's future at Monday's committee of the whole meeting at 3:30 p.m.
About Claire Walling: Claire is a contributing editor for the Med City Beat. She moved to Rochester two years ago from the Twin Cities after graduating from Hamline University. When she’s not working as a business writer she enjoys running the great trails around the region, designing and creating things, and drinking coffee. Fun fact: she was on a relay team that ran across Iowa in 54 hours. Twitter.
(Cover photo: 2015 / The Med City Beat)