Altria Theater reopens after 2.5 years & $63 million in renovations
It’s been about 2 and a half years and cost about $63 million, but the Altria theater (formerly the Landmark, formerly the Mosque) has reopened with a fresh look on the Richmond classic.
Besides nuts and bolts maintenance - electrical systems, plumbing, HVAC, fire alarms and fire suppression system – the renovations returned the tile work, floors, ceiling and wall murals, and the fountain in the building’s lobby to their 1920′s glory.
Built in 1926, the Altria was originally an ACCA Shriner temple, built for less than $2 million. Richmond City purchased the building in 1940. This is the first attempt at renovation since some refurbishing in the mid 90′s.
“Richmond CenterStage is incredibly grateful to the City of Richmond as well as to all of the individuals, foundations and corporate partners – particularly Altria and Dominion – for their generosity in making this renovation project possible,” said Steve Rogers, Chairman of Richmond CenterStage’s Board of Directors. “We absolutely cannot wait to welcome audiences back to the grand re-opening of one of the most iconic arts venues on the East Coast, and Richmond CenterStage is proud to call Altria Theater one of our signature venues.”
Those backstage will see new renovations as well, with refurbished dressing rooms, a tour management office, a new crew room with a kitchenette, a new stage floor, a brand new curtain, a wardrobe area with a laundry room and over 50 set lines, which will allow complex scenery and set pieces to be moved much more efficiently.
Much of the front end renovations were done during the summers and the theater’s off seasons, with behind the scenes work being done during the rest of the year.
“The re-opening of Altria Theater is another successful example of public-private partnerships in the City,” said Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones in a press release. “This renovation will ensure that future generations of Richmonders will create memories for a lifetime similar to those of past generations.
Jones was present when the renovations were announced in 2012. Altria purchased the naming rights for the then-Landmark Theater for $10 million, a portion of the $18 million provided by private donations for the theaters renovation. The city put fourth $14 million and the last $31 million came from state and federal historic tax credits (totaling $63 million).
Back in 2012, the renovations were estimated at around $50 million.
While specifics of financial return weren’t available by press-time, the city recoups funds from the theater through admissions taxes, food and beverage taxes, and broader economic impacts from people visiting the city to see shows and performances.
“This iconic theater is important to the economic and cultural vitality of Richmond, and will continue to be a place where Richmonders and visitors to our city can enjoy world-class theater performances, concerts and speakers,” said Jones.
“Over the course of three years, the theater has been restored to its authentic and original design and brought into the 21st Century,” said Bruce Herrmann AIA, Director of Wilson Butler Architects.
Wilson Butler lead the design and renovation efforts on other CenterStage properties along E. Grace Street six years ago, including Carpenter Theatre, Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse and Rhythm Hall.
“The opportunity was to create a genuinely memorable experience and provide a few new discoveries for patrons to find every time they come,” said Herrmann.
Your first chance to see the finished and restored Altria Theater this Sunday, 11/2, when Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne will take the stage.
Members of the general public are invited to tour the newly renovated facility on Friday, November 21 between 12:00 Noon and 8:00 p.m. Guided and self-guided tours will be available. Details will be posted in the coming weeks on our website at www.RichmondCenterStage.com.
“I love coming back to show my family and friends what I left to pursue.”March 6, 2017
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