Theaters are part of downtown development project

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — Boston will soon get its first new legit theaters in nearly 70 years. Plans are under way to build a 350-seat proscenium theater that will serve as the nonprofit Huntington Theater Co.’s second stage, as well as a 200-seat flexible-use theater that will provide critically needed space for Boston’s performing arts community.

Part of a downtown development project also including residential and retail units, the two theaters will be in a 40,000-square-foot arts facility to be built jointly by the Huntington and the Boston Center for the Arts. The arts facility will include two rehearsal halls, studios and other spaces for artists and youth programming.

It will be on Tremont Street adjacent to the BCA, which has three existing theaters.

The BCA and the Huntington have just signed an agreement to go ahead with the project. The theaters are expected to open their doors in 2003. The Huntington’s mainstage will continue to be the 890-seat Boston U. Theater on Huntington Avenue.

City kicking in $3 mil

The city of Boston will invest $3 million in the development to cover the costs of site preparation, utility infrastructure, streetscaping and sidewalks.

The shell and core of the arts facility will be built by the Druker Co. at a cost of more than $7 million. Boston mayor Thomas Menino brokered a deal between the BCA and the Druker Co. for the construction.

In the agreement between the BCA and the Huntington, the latter will raise the balance of funds necessary to complete the interior of the arts facility, about $6.5 million. The Huntington, which is offering its first season under artistic director Nicholas Martin, expects to raise the money through a major capital campaign that will also generate endowment funds to support the company’s operations.

The arts facility will be built next to the BCA’s Cyclorama within the mixed-use Druker development project. That project will also include 102 residential units, a restaurant, retail spaces and underground parking.

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