NorShor Theatre Shines for the Night
Posted at: 10/29/2013 9:03 PM
| Updated at: 10/29/2013 10:12 PM
By: Travis Dill
Downtown Duluth was a little brighter Tuesday evening as the NorShor Theatre marquee lit up for the first time in years.
A crowd cheered as Mayor Don Ness flipped the switch and set the bulbs flashing, but those lights and the building itself haven't been used since the city purchased it for $2.6 million in 2010.
The state legislature did not approve theater's restoration in this year's bonding bill, but Ness said the project will likely receive nearly $6 million from the legislature in 2014.
“Because we were in last year's bill that gives us a tremendous leg up on all the other competition. The governor likes this project; we have strong support from our local delegation so I'm feeling really good about our chances,” Ness said.
Some have criticized the restoration plan, but the hope of revitalizing downtown appeals to residents like Barbara Remington. For her the flashing lights of the marquee were a welcome sight.
“It brings class back to the city and the downtown. I love the downtown. I miss the old downtown so it's nice that the old historic buildings are becoming real again,” Remington said.
A saxophone trickled music and life into the building's lobby for the event and people filled seats that had gone unused for years. The restoration would make the theater into a 700-seat venue and a clear draw for tourism according to the Executive Director of the Duluth Playhouse, Chrisine Gradl Seitz.
"Obviously for neighboring businesses it brings in potential buyers. It's also great for tourism when people come into town and see this gorgeous theater here, and it's just a good thing for our community,” Gradl Seitz said.
The house was packed for the lighting event, but printing tickets to the next show will have to wait until the funding comes through.
The restoration committee must raise over $1 million, in addition to the nearly $6 million requested through state bonding, before construction could begin.
Mayor Ness said construction could start next summer and finish in 2015 if that funding falls into place.