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Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Chateau prepares for its next act

Chateau prepares for its next act

All remnants of the Chateau Theatre’s life as a bookstore have been removed in preparation for the building’s next chapter.

On Monday, members of the media were invited in for a tour of the building, which has sat empty since Barnes and Noble moved out in 2015.

Noticeably absent is the second floor, which along with the escalators that led up to it, have been removed as part of a $1.1 million renovation project. (Neither the second floor nor the escalators were original to the structure.)

The goal is to have the theater reconditioned for future activation by June of this year. The city is now in the process of reviewing proposals from five groups to determine how the 92-year-old building could be used.

Acknowledging there is a great deal of anticipation from the public, Lisa Clarke, executive director of the Destination Medical Center EDA, said she is excited for the building to open back up for community events.

“It will no longer sit here with the lights off and doors closed,” said Clarke.

Since January, crews led by Benike Construction have been working to remodel the interior of the space. The work has included modifications to the wiring, lighting and facade. Original elements, including the Renaissance-themed walls, have been covered with protective wrapping in order to preserve the historic character of the site.

Roofing work, officials said, will begin the second week of April.

Once open, the Chateau will have a maximum capacity of 390 people. That number, according to Park and Rec’s Mike Nigbur, is based on the number of bathrooms and the width of the exit doors.

The next step for the Chateau is determining which of the five proposals received by the city should move forward for recommendation to the Rochester City Council. Those proposals include an arcade, a space for traveling exhibits, and a meeting/entertainment venue.

The council is expected to decide on a proposal in June. Nigbur said there will likely be a gap between renovation work and eventual activation by one of the five groups, though he noted there may be opportunities for community programming in the interim.

The Chateau is the most prominent symbol in a wave of changes taking place in Peace Plaza. Two new businesses are set to open in the plaza this summer: Moka coffee shop and Jerk King restaurant. Renovation work on the adjacent Wells Fargo building is also expected to begin this year.

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Cover photo by William Forsman

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