PALACE

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - Jweiker@ dis­patch. com @JimWeiker

His­toric Preser­va­tion Tax Cred­its to help fund the im­prove­ments.

“We call the Palace our work­horse theater,” CAPA Pres­i­dent Chad Whit­ting­ton said. “This will en­sure that, for the next 25 years, au­di­ences can con­tinue to en­joy the Palace and the great acts we bring in.”

The most-ur­gent part of the ren­o­va­tion, re­plac­ing the theater’s heat­ing- andair­con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, al­ready is un­der­way and should be com­pleted within the next month, Whit­ting­ton said.

The Palace shared an HVAC sys­tem with its sis­ter build­ing, the LeVeque Tower. The LeVeque re­ceived a new HVAC sys­tem with its re­cent up­grade, re­quir­ing the Palace to also in­stall a new sys­tem.

The other ma­jor com­po­nent of the project calls for re­plac­ing most of the theater’s seats, most of which are more than 40 years old. Be­cause the new seats would be wider, the theater would lose some of its cur­rent 2,827 seats, but the num­ber isn’t yet clear.

“We’ve got­ten big­ger over time,” said Whit­ting­ton, re­fer­ring to the size of Amer­i­cans as a whole. “We think this is im­por­tant to the ex­pe­ri­ence of the guests.”

About 500 seats in the theater loge al­ready have been re­placed. Those seats have 19 inches of space be­tween the arms, com­pared with 17½ inches for the older seats.

The theater’s plaster would be re­paired, too, and the in­te­rior painted to re­flect the orig­i­nal 1926 shades. In ad­di­tion, pat­terned wall­pa­per would be re­stored to parts of some walls.

“This will have a lot of beiges and yel­lows, a lot closer to the orig­i­nal color theme,” said Todd Bemis, CAPA vice pres­i­dent of op­er­a­tions. Painters ap­plied a sam­ple of the new col­ors and wall­pa­per in a cor­ner of the bal­cony wall a year ago.

Fi­nally, the project calls for re­mod­el­ing the mez­za­nine-level men’s bath­room and the con­ces­sion stand on the mez­za­nine.

CAPA has spent about $19 mil­lion main­tain­ing the theater since tak­ing it over in 1989, Whit­ting­ton said. But this would mark the first ma­jor ren­o­va­tion since the theater re­opened in 1980 after be­ing closed for five years.

If CAPA’s fundrais­ing cam­paign suc­ceeds, Whit­ting­ton said the theater will close be­tween May and Septem­ber for the ren­o­va­tion.

If CAPA doesn’t raise the money or re­ceive the his­toric tax cred­its, he said, the Palace will re­main open, even though CAPA said in its ap­pli­ca­tion for the tax cred­its that the theater would be in dan­ger of clos­ing.

“We’re com­mit­ted to keep­ing the Palace open,” Whit­ting­ton said. “The heat­ing and cool­ing will still hap­pen, but the other work would have to wait. We re­ally think it’s im­por­tant to get all this work done. Our goal is to get it done in 2018.”

The Palace — one of three clas­sic Down­town the­aters, along with the Ohio and South­ern — opened on Nov. 8, 1926, and through the decades has hosted many tour­ing Broad­way shows, as well as big names, in­clud­ing Jack Benny, the Marx Broth­ers, Tom Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., Mae West, Michael Fe­in­stein and Bon­nie Raitt.

Al­though the Palace lacks the lux­ury of the Ohio The­atre and has no res­i­dent arts groups as the Ohio and South­ern do, Whit­ting­ton said it serves as a key venue for tour­ing acts.

Last sea­son, the theater hosted 90 shows at­tended by a to­tal 125,000 vis­i­tors, he said.

“There’s a huge amount of di­ver­sity at the Palace, a lot of one-night shows,” Whit­ting­ton said. “It’s some­thing we need in Colum­bus.”

[JONATHAN QUIL­TER/DIS­PATCH]

On the left, the gilt mold­ing and the plaster scroll­work have been re­stored, a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence from the peel­ing paint on the right.

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