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West St. Petersburg church will morph into theater site

ST. PETERSBURG — A new venue for live theater is coming to St. Petersburg's west side.

The Development Review Commission on Wednesday approved the conversion of a church campus to a performing arts center. The complex is the former Second Church of Christ, Scientist at 6099 Central Ave.

The full block site includes three buildings and two parking areas. The main building is on the western side of the property and was built in 1955.

"The building is really perfect. It's midcentury modern with kind of a Frank Lloyd Wright feeling," said architect Tim Clemmons, who represented the FreeFall Theater Company at the DRC hearing.

With the DRC's unanimous approval of the theater company's site plan and special exception in hand, he said FreeFall's pending purchase of the church property is expected to close this month.

The theater company plans to renovate the main church building as a performing arts theater seating about 200 people. A separate building previously used for Sunday school will be converted to a black box theater with about 120 moveable seats. The third building, a reading room, will be converted to a theatrical education building.

The renovation will include installing theatrical lighting and new air conditioning, constructing a box office and a concession stand, and creating an intermission space in the existing courtyard. Construction begins in September.

"FreeFall wants to make this a center for the theatrical arts for the west coast," said Clemmons.

The theater company quickly established its reputation two years ago with its first production, The Wild Party, a mix of opera and jazz and art song. ROOMS: a rock romance, the company's most recent production, will open at Studio@620 at 620 First Ave. S on Sept. 10.

The company plans to continue providing an eclectic mix of contemporary and classic music and drama at its new home.

West St. Petersburg church will morph into theater site 08/07/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 6, 2010 2:19pm]
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