Thursday, January 16, 2014

Von Kurnatowski and George to buy Orpheum Theater

Posted By on Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 5:49 PM

click to enlarge Orpheum Theater building, New Orleans Central Business District - CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • Orpheum Theater building, New Orleans Central Business District

Roland Von Kurnatowski and Dr. Eric George will buy the Orpheum Theater, Von Kurnatowski says. They expect to complete the sale in February.

"It's a thrilling project," Von Kurnitowski says. "It's a spectacular facility. We couldn't be more excited to be the ones bringing it back to productive use."

The Orpheum has been shuttered since Hurricane Katrina and has changed hands several times. Von Kurnatowski expects to complete a full renovation of the historic theater and reopen it in spring 2015. He and George expect to spend more than $10 million renovating the space and will make use of available historic tax credits and music infrastructure tax credits.

They have a working understanding with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra that the symphony will return to its former home, possibly for the 2015-2016 season.

Kurnatowski also expects to use the space for concerts, corporate and convention events and social events.

Roland and Mary Von Kurnatowski are cofounders of the Tipitina's Foundation. The foundation is not part of the purchase of the Orpheum, but Roland expects the foundation will use the space. The foundation has a relationship with the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Von Kurnatowski has a working understanding with Berklee about it holding concerts and events at the Orpheum.

The Orpheum originally opened in 1921. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

It will join two theaters also damaged following the levee failures, the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts and the Saenger Theatre, which reopened in October. The Canal Street corridor also includes the Joy Theater and the Civic Theatre.


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