City celebrates Pantages renovation

In a ceremony yesterday morning aimed to usher in renovations to an 88-year-old downtown theater, several dozen people gathered to watch city leaders and members of Tacoma’s arts community tear back a section of carpeting in the lobby of the Pantages Theater. It was a symbolic move aimed to mark the beginning of a $5.1 million renovation that, when completed in October, will double the size of the lobby (to 3,100-square-feet) and include a new box office, grand staircase, and concession stand. The work will also upgrade restrooms and raise ceiling heights in the theater.

“The Pantages has been a jewel in the Theater District’s crown,” said Christopher Algeo, president of the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) board of trustees. “But until now, it’s been a jewel that needs a little polishing.”

Funding for the improvements arrived from several sources: a $1 million anonymous donation triggered addition funds from the City of Tacoma ($1.3 million) and the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, which raised $3.8 million from foundations, corporations, and individuals.

“The plans are beyond our wildest dreams,” said Margaret Lapin, a chair of the BCPA fundraising campaign. She pointed to samples of new carpeting and ornamental fixture designed to evoke the theater’s early roots. “It’s just magnificent.”

The renovations were conceived by Korth Sunseri Hagey Architects of San Francisco, and Grulich Architecture and Planning in Tacoma.

“[T]his renovation is key to having this beautiful venue meet the needs of our community and growing audiences,” said Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma.

“Everyone we talk to is thrilled to hear about this project,” said Josie Turner , Acting Executive Director of BCPA. “The Broadway Center plays a central role in the life of Tacoma’s performing arts activities and having an updated lobby will have ripple effects for all our resident arts organizations, as well as our community. The staff, our board, the supporters and the multiple organizations who call the Broadway Center home are all eager to roll up the rug and get started.”