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TOWER Theatre, Milwaukee.

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  • mrcooby
    Reopening the Tower Theater could ignite the redevelopment of North 27th Street in Milwaukee, but the cost of the project makes it a tough play. The SOHI
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 27, 2008
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      Reopening the Tower Theater could ignite the redevelopment of North 27th
      Street in Milwaukee, but the cost of the project makes it a tough play.


      The SOHI District
      <http://www.mkedcd.org/MainStreetMilwaukee/Districts.html#27th> , which
      represents the area south of Highland Avenue, wants to attract a theater
      troupe to use the space. But the building, built in 1921
      <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlK0B4kCK_E> , has been vacant for more
      than a decade and will need dramatic improvements before it can be used
      for rehearsals or other events, said Keith Stanley, SOHI District
      manager.

      "I think the cost is the main issue," he said, adding, "It
      could be something that turns the corner for the district."

      The SOHI District is trying to bring new development to 27th Street
      between Highland and St. Paul avenues through streetscape improvements,
      police cameras and efforts to attract businesses.

      Establishing arts communities is a proven way to bring companies to an
      area, Stanley said, and there's room for production space and
      offices in the building.

      "We've seen places throughout the country — that are in the
      same position we are in — use art as a way to promote commercial
      revitalization," he said.

      A little more than 10 years ago, Milwaukee County bought the Tower
      Theater with a cluster of buildings that includes two towers now used
      for county offices, said Jack Takerian, county director of facility
      management. The county doesn't use the space, he said.

      "There have been some theater companies that have contacted us over
      the years, interested in the space," he said. "But nothing has
      developed."

      Tower's previous owner, Family Hospital, ripped out many of the
      seats to make room for a cafeteria and erected walls for offices,
      Takerian said. The seats must be replaced and the walls removed before
      it's a theater again, he said.

      "Their thought process," he said, "was the theater was an
      open space for them to do a variety of different things."

      The county never planned to use the space as a theater, Takerian said,
      but welcomes the SOHI District's help in trying to find a group to
      use the space.

      "That partnership with SOHI — Keith and his group — is
      essential to turning that development around," he said.

      Stanley said his group is just starting to hunt for a theater troupe and
      doesn't expect the project to turn over quickly.

      "It's a unique building," he said. "I would hate to lose
      it, but you never know how things are going to pan out."






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