Milwaukee Youth Arts Center breaks ground for expansion project

Kyra Mathias, Brook Wisniewski and Chloe Lee celebrate the groundbreaking for the MYAC expansion project.

Last updated on February 24th, 2021 at 10:38 pm

The Milwaukee Youth Arts Center broke ground Tuesday to mark the start of an expansion project within its main building at 325 W. Walnut St., Milwaukee.

The center plans to renovate 42,000 square feet of underused space in the lower level of the building to add two new rehearsal halls, six studios and six small group instruction rooms, and upgrade its mainstage hall on the facility’s main level.

The MYAC campus, which is the home of Milwaukee children’s theater group First Stage and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, consists of two buildings near the intersection of West Walnut Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue: the main building at 325 W. Walnut St. and another building across the street at 1702 N. 4th St.

The center has received about $13.4 million in pledges for the project to date and an estimated New Market Tax Credits Net Benefit at $1.28 million.

MYAC also plans to update the building’s systems to increase energy efficiency, improve safety and security with a reconfigured front entrance and improve technology in the facility.

The project is expected to be completed by the fall.

MYAC has retained Milwaukee-based Ramlow/Stein Architecture + Interiors and Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction Company for the project.

A second phase of the project will include renovating MYAC’s building on Fourth Street, which the organization purchased in 2016.

When completed, the project is expected to create nearly twice the available teaching, rehearsal and performance space.

MYAC first opened in 2005 in collaboration with First Stage and MYSO. In addition to those two organizations, MYAC hosts Danceworks, Milwaukee Children’s Choir and Festival City Symphony.

The center annually serves about 25,000 students from about 90 zip codes throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

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