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Mahaffey Theater makes the rounds

(ran East, South editions)

As the Mahaffey Theater unveils a new season with more than 20 theatrical and musical events, its front office is attending neighborhood meetings with a simple message: We're not going anywhere.

The city-owned theater and the land around it will undergo changes if the City Council approves a five-year management agreement with businessman William Edwards, who is offering the city $8-million to renovate the building and another $2.35-million in loans. The theater at 400 First St. S needs a new roof and runs on cold water because hot water pipes leak, development director Sandy Tabor said.

Tabor, who has been making the rounds with neighborhoods, on Tuesday told the Tyrone Landing association that the Florida Orchestra and the foundation that publicizes events at the theater are negotiating with Edwards on their relationships if his deal with the city goes through.

The new arrangement would give Edwards control over shows in the theater and at an outdoor park to be built by the Albert Whitted Airport, as well as revenues generated.

"Aside from the fact that everyone is reluctant to change, I think it's a good deal," Tabor said. Because of structural problems, the building was to be demolished within a year.

Tabor said she wants to be sure residents know that the theater is still open for business. At 3 p.m. Oct. 3 is the debut of The Emperor's New Clothes. The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Aladdin round out the Sunday children's series through April. All children's productions will be held at the Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave. N.

Other attractions include plays, musicals, an oldies music series and the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker.