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For Good

near west theatre breaks ground on first dedicated space after 35 years on stage


After 35 years producing theatrical performances in rented spaces, the Near West Theatre finally is getting its own place. The community theater broke ground on its first-ever permanent home on November 27, and its supporters are happily looking ahead to the first show at the stand-alone building.

It will be about two years before the Detroit-Shoreway theater opens at W. 67th Street, just north of Detroit, says chief operating officer Hans Holznagel. Until then, Near West Theatre will continue to operate out of its longtime rented home on the third floor of a hall owned by St. Patrick's Church at W. 38th Street and Bridge Avenue in Cleveland's Ohio City neighborhood.

The new 25,000-square-foot theater will have extra seating and increased stage space. It also will have rehearsal space and air conditioning, two amenities the current facility has done without for years.

"It opens up all kinds of possibilities for us," says Holznagel.

Hundreds of people from the Gordon Square Arts District, the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and the local theater community were invited to celebrate the theater's groundbreaking. The project will cost nearly $7 million. This funding is a portion of the $30 million Gordon Square Arts District campaign to revitalize the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood using the arts as an economic catalyst.

A new space won't detract from the intimacy that Near West Theatre shows are known for, promises Holznagel. When it opens in fall 2014, the space will offer the professionally produced, large-scale shows long-time fans have grown to love.

 "We're excited to be part of a diverse, vibrant community that matches with the mission of our theater," Holznagel says.

 
SOURCE: Hans Holznagel
WRITER:  Douglas J. Guth
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