Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra increases campaign goal for Warner Grand Theatre project

Fundraising target now $139 million

The MSO will open in the Grand Theatre building in 2020.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:11 pm

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is increasing the scope of its fundraising campaign for the Warner Grand Theatre’s restoration to include the cost of renovating the building’s office tower.

The MSO will open in the Grand Theatre building in 2020.

The fundraising goal for the project, which will convert the former theater at 212 W. Wisconsin Ave. into MSO’s new rehearsal and performance space, is now $139 million, up from the previous target of $120 million, said Mark Niehaus, MSO president and executive director.

In addition to renovating the 87-year-old theater, lobby and concourses, the project will now include the renovation of the building’s 12-story office tower.

Plans include converting three floors into a private Founder’s Room for symphony patrons, warm-up space for the symphony chorus, and the orchestra and chorus sheet music library. Two of the floors will become the MSO’s administrative office  to replace the current offices at 1101 N. Market St. The remaining floors will be set aside for other uses, including potential tenants, MSO executives said.

MSO officials said the campaign has raised $106 million to date. The overall goal includes costs for the building redevelopment project, as well as building up the organization’s endowment.

In April, MSO was approved for nearly $11.1 million in state historic preservation tax credits for the project. MSO plans to finance the project, in part, with $17 million in federal and state tax credits.

“As we finalized the scope of the project, it became apparent that we were better served by maximizing the totality of our historic tax credits to assume renovation of the tower, in addition to the theater and lobby,” Niehaus said. “Those additional costs are reflected in the new project target of $139 million.”

The opening of the renovated theater, which will be called the Milwaukee Symphony Center, is expected for the fall of 2020.

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