Owners of Modjeska Theater seeking new operator

RFP calls for redevelopment of historic south side building

Modjeska Theatre

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:10 pm

The owner of the historic Modjeska Theater is seeking proposals to make improvements to and operate the building on Milwaukee’s south side.

The theater, located 1134 W. Historic Mitchell St., has been shuttered since 2010. It first opened its doors to patrons in 1910, and was replaced with a much larger structure in 1924 that contained 2,000 seats, a full orchestra pit and a Barton pipe organ, according to a request for proposals recently issued by Modjeska owner Mitchell Street Development Opportunities Corp.

The owner’s goals for the theater include maximizing it as a community resource, using it as a catalyst for further economic development of Historic Mitchell Street and ensuring the facility is maintained and improved so it can remain a “cultural asset for the Historic Mitchell Street community and the city of Milwaukee.” according to the RFP.

The document also notes the theater may be situated in an Opportunity Zone and may also be eligible for state or federal historical tax credits.

John Kesselman, president of MSDOC, could not be reached for comment.

The RFP comes after the city’s Historic Preservation Commission earlier this month considered extending a mothball certificate for the theater. This would further delay the issuance of building code violations.

The Historic Mitchell Street Business Improvement District voiced its opposition to extending the mothball certificate, and urged that “swift action” be taken to

Rudy Gutierrez, board president of the Mitchell Street BID, wrote in a letter to commission members the BID “urges that the theatre’s future use be community-oriented, and that plans move ahead as soon as possible for its future use.”

The Commission agreed to hold the extension request for a month as the Modjeska owner worked through the RFP process. The RFP had not been made final at the time of the meeting.

Responses to the RFP are due on Feb. 15.

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