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MINNEAPOLIS-Construction has begun on an $8.9-million renovation of the 40,000-sf Pantages Theatre and Stimson Building Downtown. The project architect is Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc., while a construction contract was recently awarded to Penn-Co Construction, Inc. of Eagan, MN.

Financing will be provided through the Minneapolis Community Development Agency common bond fund. Principal and interest on the bonds will be paid from the ticket surcharge generated by event ticket sales in all three MCDA-owned theaters.

Renovation of the Pantages will include all new building systems including electrical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and mechanical air handling.

All four roof elevations will be completely new and strengthened to bring them up to current building standards. The lobby will be modern in appearance. The auditorium will accent the original 1916 construction through the selective renovation of decorativeplasterwork and other details. The marquee and entranceway will be distinctive, highly-lit and will play off the original marquee design of 1916.

After almost a full year of design and engineering work, The Pantages, a 1,000-seat theater located at 700 Hennepin Ave., is scheduled to open in November 2002.

“The Pantages will be a major addition to the city’s Entertainment District,” says Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, “and will provide a new niche with the introduction of off-Broadway theater to Downtown Minneapolis.”

The city of Minneapolis bought the theater in 1998 from long-time owner Ted Mann. The MCDA took over ownership from the city early last year and will continue to own the theater.

Historic Theatre Group will operate and manage the Pantages once it opens. HTG also operates the MCDA-owned Historic State and Orpheum theaters in the Downtown Entertainment District. The Pantages will carry primarily off-Broadway and live theater productions along with live music concerts.

The Pantages opened in 1916 as a vaudeville theater. Ted Mann bought the building in 1959, renamed the building in his name and ran motion pictures until the theater closed in 1984. The 23,000-sf Stimson Building fronts the theater along Hennepin Avenue and Seventh Street.

After renovation, the MCDA will sell the Stimson Building to a private owner with the intent of enhancing the theater/entertainment theme along the avenue.

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