The Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency’s continued support of the arts is demonstrated by the approval of a $14 million funding request by Tampa Theatre for restoration and preservation of the historic and majestic theater.

Tampa’s historic movie palace, Tampa Theatre, is owned by the City of Tampa and managed by the nonprofit Tampa Theatre Foundation. Recently, the Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) voted to approve Tampa Theatre’s funding request for $14 million for restoration of the iconic city landmark.

Phase one, which consisted of restoration of the lobby, paint, plaster, seats and drapes, was completed in 2017 and 2018.

Phase two is already underway.

“Our goal is to present a fully restored Tampa Theatre to the community in time for the Theatre’s 100th anniversary in October of 2026,” explained John Bell, president and CEO of Tampa Theatre.

The plan for phase two is a two-part component. One part is to make substantial capital improvements. The second part is for programming and to establish an endowment to preserve the theater for the next century.

Phase two has lots of exciting projects that will make going to Tampa Theatre an even greater experience for residents of and visitors to the Tampa Bay area. One project is the construction of a 42-seat micro cinema. It will be located in a floral shop that is located to the left of the existing box office.

According to Jill Witecki, vice president and director of marketing, “Despite the small size, this micro cinema will dramatically increase our programming. If we have a concert or special program one night, we are not able to offer a film a clean run. If we can use the smaller venue for one night of a film run, we will be able to guarantee a clean film run. As our CEO says, ‘We will be able to say yes to everything.’”

Another project is to restore an unused third floor (which is located on the Florida Avenue side).

According to Witecki, “We have a need for space. This area has not been touched since the 50s. We need to install an elevator, put in electricity and more. It will become classroom and meeting space.”

Other projects are less noticeable but much needed, such as updating HVAC and plumbing and modernizing the production system.

Tampa Theatre is a strong economic driver. An average of 160,000 visitors come each year, generating millions in state and local taxes.

“The CRA support will ensure that the Tampa Theatre continues to be a landmark in downtown Tampa,” said CRA Chairwoman Lynn Hurtak.

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