This morning, Florida Theatre president Numa Saisselin and first vice-chair Leslie Gordon, along with Mayor Lenny Curry, announced the launch of a five-year, $10 million renovation plan for the historic downtown venue.
As part of the project, the historic theater would receive a new sound system and digital projection system, an upgraded lighting system, all new seating, an expanded lobby, more spacious restrooms, and improved ADA access. In addition, the venue’s historic marquee and signboards would be restored, and the interior would be repainted.
The project will be funded by way of a public-private partnership, with the city contributing an estimated $1 million per year for five years.
“For nearly a century, the Florida Theatre has been an icon in the Jacksonville community,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “From the famous sign and marquee board out front, to the beautiful and intricate interiors, this amazing location has brought thousands of guests and artists to downtown Jacksonville. The City is proud to invest in this beloved community asset.”
The theater would fund the other half of the $10 million projected total itself. So far, it has raised $2.1 million through donations and pledges, and it expects another $1.5 million over the next five years from restoration fees added to tickets earlier this year. It has also applied for $600,000 in state grants that would be awarded next year. Assuming everything goes as planned, that would put the nonprofit group just $800,000 short of its goal.
“We are confident that the leadership of Jacksonville and our community understands the importance of the Florida Theatre, and will help us raise the additional funds needed to meet our goal,” said Saisselin.
Florida Theatre originally opened in 1927 and reopened in its modern form in 1983. With nearly 200 performances hosted each year, it stands as one of the most active theaters of its size in the country.
The renovations are expected to be complete in time for the theater’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2027.
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