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Grandel Theater in Grand Center gets new life

Rendering of proposed Grandel Theater renovations depicts glowing exterior of building at dusk with people chilling outside.
Provided by Kranzberg Arts Foundation
Rendering of proposed Grandel Theater renovations

After closing several years ago, the Grandel Theater in Grand Center will get a new shot as a rehabbed performance venue and exhibit space.

The Kranzberg Arts Foundation has begun renovating the Grandel Theater and intends to will reopen its main stage by spring or summer of this year. Kranzberg Arts Foundation Executive Director Chris Hansen said he wants the space to do more than just host performances.

“We really want to stay focused on meeting the needs of our broader community and making sure the space connects the dots beyond just the main stage performances,” he said.

The theater was home to The Black Rep theater company and St. Louis Shakespeare before both companies were asked to relocate in 2013. Since then, the space has largely remained empty.

When finished, the new space will incorporate the already-established Grand Center gallery The Dark Room and feature performances by dance and theater companies.  It also will feature educational programming.

Organizers hope to host more than 100 events a year at the space, which will be open five days a week.

“We want people to feel connected to the space day and night,” Hansen said.

The recent announcement continues the Kranzerberg Arts Foundation’s growth in the Grand Center neighborhood.  Earlier this year, the organization opened the arts incubator .ZACK in the four-story historic Cadillac Building at 3224 Locust St.

“We know how important it is to centralize the energy and the community and bring together the organizations and the audiences to create that critical mass and density to really make this work” Hansen said.

Local firm SPACE Architecture + Design has been contracted for the renovations. In a release announcing the renovations, Karin Hagaman, president and CEO of Grand Center, Inc., threw her support behind the project.

"We could not be more excited to work with the Kranzberg Arts Foundation as they return this great facility to life and continue their mission to add to the richness and diversity of St. Louis’s cultural landscape," she said.

The first phase of renovations will include updating the lobby and common areas of the theater.

Follow Willis Ryder Arnold on Twitter @WillisRArnold