Mayor touts redevelopment of historic theater

City of Saint Paul seeks $6 million in state bonding dollars to remodel the only theater in the Twin Cities devoted to contemporary popular music

With arts and culture proving to be vital to the economic health of American cities, Mayor Chris Coleman joined local leaders and musicians on a tour of Saint Paul’s historic Palace Theatre, situated in the center of Saint Paul’s downtown and a site that is primed for reinvestment.

“Building a vibrant city means investing in things that grow our community, benefit our economy and advance our city as a whole. Crucial investments like the Palace Theatre promote our economic vitality and is one of the best ways we can use the resources entrusted to us by our taxpayers,” Mayor Chris Coleman said. “The Palace Theatre has the potential to once again become a unique gem in the heart of downtown, building an even stronger Saint Paul.”

The Palace Theatre opened for the first time in 1916, built on the former site of the Saint Paul Public Library, which was lost to fire the year earlier. Originally on the vaudeville circuit, the theater became devoted to showing films only in 1925, and served as a mainstay for several decades before closing in 1984. The theater, which originally seated 3,000, was redesigned in the 1940s and the seating reduced to 1,400.

The tour showcased the historic charm of the theater and its potential for redevelopment. The City of Saint Paul is requesting $6 million in bonding dollars from the state to redevelop the Palace into the only theater in the Twin Cities devoted to contemporary pop music. With its renovation, the theater would become a vibrant venue for events of all kinds, seating up to 3,000 people.

“It's important to our region and state to develop vibrant arts and cultural institutions in our urban core. Renovating the Palace Theatre will attract an important demographic for downtown, and help drive new economic development for the area,” State Rep. Alice Hausman said.

“This is a very successful and efficient model for energizing cities across the country. Many historic theaters don’t necessarily need a full restoration to bring in the types of crowds we expect. Especially given the strong market for music in the Twin Cities, this project is going to be a huge success,” Jerry Mickelson, co-owner of Jam Productions, said.

“This project is going to be a huge success for our community. With a capacity of 3,000 and the flexibility to have audiences in seats and general admission in a beautiful old vaudeville hall – the Palace will be a truly unique venue,” Dayna Frank, owner of First Avenue and 7th St. Entry, said.