The Stillwater Zephyr Theatre project moved forward Tuesday night.
The Stillwater City Council on a 3-2 vote — Tom Weidner and Dave Junker dissenting — approved a 7 foot height variance for the construction of a fly loft on the Stillwater Depot building on the north end of Main Street.
Several residents of nearby condos oppose the project saying that granting a height variance will destroy their view of the St. Croix River.
Only a Dim Image Productions has proposed renovating the Stillwater Depot building into a 332-seat professional theatre and bakery/coffee shop. The group recently launched a $6.5 million capital campaign to buy the Minnesota Zephyr train depot and renovate it.
The hope is to begin construction later this year, and to open the new Stillwater Zephyr Theatre in November 2017.
This post will be updated with more information from Tuesday night’s meeting soon, so check back.
The theatre will specialize in musicals from the 1920s to ’50s, according to Stillwater Zephyr Theatre’s website. “The Zephyr Theatre will be a professional theatre providing live performances, music, dance, education and artistic opportunities for all ages.”
Plans for Only a Dim Image Productions’ proposed theatre call for a large meeting hall and rehearsal space, a dance rehearsal studio, scene, costume and prop shops, and a bakery and coffee shop.
According to StillwaterZephyrTheatre.org, the benefits to the community include:
- Providing a regional professional theatre in the east metro
- Furthering establish the St. Croix Valley as a cultural center and destination
- Increasing tourism and bringing more people to downtown businesses year-round
- Offering a space/stage option for other performance groups in the area
- Creating a place for meetings, lectures, and gatherings for public or private events
- Holding classes and workshops in performance and art benefitting all ages
- Commissioning local artists, composers, performers, and playwrights
The theatre anticipates producing at least six original productions a year, while being a venue for occasional music concerts, dance performances and touring productions.
The project, being spearheaded by Franz Hall and his daughter Calyssa Hall, of Afton.
Until now, the Halls have been renting theatre space in Minneapolis for their musical productions.
The nonprofit group’s capital campaign is an attempt to raise $6.5 million for the purchase, construction and renovations of the Stillwater Depot building, which is currently owned by David Paradeau.
The Stillwater Depot building has been vacant since 2009.
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