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Loew’s State/Landmark Syracuse NY

Landmark Theater renovation scheduled to begin this fall

Published: Saturday, September 04, 2010, 7:00 AM     Updated: Saturday, September 04, 2010, 7:55 AM
Syracuse, NY — A long-planned $16 million renovation of the historic Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse is expected to begin this fall.

First announced in 2002, the renovation will take about a year. The theater’s auditorium and stage will be closed to events, including the showing of movies, until the fall of 2011, the theater’s executive director, Denise DiRienzo said Friday. The theater’s ornate lobby will remain open for weddings, receptions, corporate parties, fund-raisers and other events, she said.

The renovation will greatly enlarge the Landmark’s stage so that it can host larger concerts, plays and other live performances. Currently, only relatively small shows are possible on the theater’s stage, which was built for the showing of movies, not for live performances.

With a deeper, wider stage, Landmark officials hope to attract Broadway-type shows that require bigger sets.

“What we’re really doing is diversifying,” DiRienzo said.

That should be good news for the Landmark because more and bigger shows will bring greater revenues to the theater. But it also will be good for other businesses downtown because it will draw more people there on weekends, DiRienzo said.

In addition to a new stage, rehearsal and dressing rooms will be built for performers, the building’s electrical system will be upgraded, and a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system will be installed. The number of seats in its auditorium will not change from the current 2,948.

DiRienzo said the project has taken eight years to put together because of the need to raise money, have design and engineering plans drawn up and obtain the necessary government approvals.

Funding includes $6.5 million in state grants, a $500,000 federal grant and federal tax credits of up to 20 percent of $14.5 million of the project’s cost. The rest is being financed by loans and donations.

The theater opened as Lowe’s State Theatre at 362 S. Salina St. on Feb. 18, 1928, with the showing of the silent movie “West Point.” It has been owned by the non-profit Syracuse Area Landmark Theatre since 1979.

DiRienzo asked the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency on Friday to approve an environmental review of the project — an action that is required because the site is on the National Register of Historic Places. That approval is expected to come next month.

Reach Rick Moriarty at rmoriarty@syracuse.com or (315) 470-3148.

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