Organizers of the long-planned Victoria Theater Arts Center have purchased the shuttered cabaret at 825 University Ave. W. at Land Bank Twin Cities, a major step towards reopening the site as a non-profit community gathering and representation space on the outskirts of St. Paul’s Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods.
The purchase closed Thursday, boosted by $ 2.4 million in capital support from the state of Minnesota last year and an additional $ 1.6 million in public and private fundraising. The arts center, which sits on the Green Line, has another $ 1.4 million to raise in its $ 5.4 million fundraising campaign.
In 2009, when a private developer planned to raze the two-story building – then a shuttered lamp store – for a parking space, key partners such as the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, the Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, Historic St. Paul and Dangerous The productions mobilized to save the vacant century-old cabaret. The Land Bank Twin Cities purchased the facility in 2014, the same year the Victoria Station light rail stop opened, and has owned it on behalf of the arts center for the past seven years.
âThis is a huge milestone,â Tyler Olsen-Altness, executive director of the arts center, said in an interview on Friday. âThatâs what itâs all about from the start, to keep this asset in the community. We got it, which is amazing. It took seven long years to get there.
Olsen-Highness has said based on discussions with VJAA Architects in Minneapolis, his goal is to open the arts center in early 2023.
âThe back half of the building is the 120-seat performance space, but the front half is the most flexible community space,â he said. âWe are entering the more public part of the (fundraising) campaign, which will be asking people in the community and in St. Paul to make it happen. “
The arts center hired D’Angelos Svenkeson, managing director of NEOO Partners, Inc., a town planning and real estate development company, to help with fundraising, programming and design.
âWe are proud to be a part of something that is in my backyard,â said Svenkeson, a Rondo resident who grew up in Frogtown. ” We are almost there. There are financing specific to real estate or alternative sources of financing that are less art-oriented and linked either to tax credits or to more local sources of financing.
To celebrate the sale of the building, the arts center will host a âWe bought the buildingâ community barbecue from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday outside the theater at 825 University Avenue W. The event will feature food from Frogtown and Rondo. , music and art.