RBTL proposes performing arts center at Medley Centre

By NATE DOUGHERTY - 11/20/2012 3:36:31 PM

The Rochester Broadway Theatre League is set to partner with the owner of Medley Centre on a 3,000-seat performing arts center to be built there.

Though RBTL originally had planned for a $70 million theater at the former Midtown site in downtown Rochester, the project had difficulty finding funding and lacked the backing of the city of Rochester.

The proposed theater at the Medley Centre would cost between $40 million and $50 million, RBTL chairman Arnold Rothschild said Tuesday. The theater would be in charge of operations and programming, while Medley Centre developer Scott Congel would cover the construction costs.

The deal also would include a $2.5 million contribution from Congel to renovate and update the Auditorium Theatre. Rothschild said the theater would be reduced to 1,500 seats, filling a need for a mid-sized theater in the region.

“Retiring the debt on the Auditorium Theater and renovating it would allow that to continue to be used,” Rothschild said. “The original feasibility studies we’d done when looking at renovations showed that that size of theater was missing in our area.”

Rothschild said RBTL had been working with the Congel family for more than a year on the deal and crafted a memorandum of understanding for the project. He said he is confident it will get done.

“They’ve done projects in the northeast since the early 70s, and I have great respect for their ability to do things,” Rothschild said.

The RBTL theater proposal at Midtown was delayed from the start, as theater officials had to first wait for Paetec Holding Corp. to make official its decision to move to the Midtown Plaza site before starting with initial development plans. The organization had proposed a $70 million theater on the McCurdy’s site.

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