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Duluth to seek info on theater project

DULUTH -- The Duluth City Council agreed Monday to authorize the Duluth Downtown Development Authority to seek architectural drawings for replacing part of the Red Clay Theatre downtown.

DDA Vice President Rob Ponder displayed sketches of the proposed design for a 3,500-square-foot building that would create a new more visible entrance facing Ga. Hwy. 120 for the theatre during a council work session. The existing entrance on Main Street would remain.

The proposed building includes a large lobby for gatherings, a box office, restrooms, and an administrative office. The sketches, created by the Duluth architectural firm of Hill Foley Rossi & Associates, were labeled "Duluth City Playhouse."

A theatre marquee and sign would be designed separately due to potential costliness.

The DDA now can proceed with issuing a request for proposal for the architectural drawings.

The proposed design was "well-received by the public" during an Aug. 17 meeting sponsored by the DDA to solicit input, Ponder said.

The large lobby, he said, would not only accommodate theatre-goers during intermission but would allow the theatre to host receptions, art shows and other activities. "It will give theatre promoters a better chance of booking more events," Ponder said.

Ponder also said that the new space could be converted to retail.

The older portion of the theatre recently was demolished as the result of damage from heavy rain and flooding last September. The newer part is still being used.

The replacement building, estimated at costing $550,000, would primarily be financed with DDA and FEMA funds.

The council interrupted its work session for a brief called meeting to accept an emergency watershed protection grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to repair damage caused by the September flooding at Charleston Bay Townhomes.

Also, a resolution authorizing the filing of condemnation action to acquire a parcel needed for the Irvindale Road sidewalk project was adopted.