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Historic Duluth theater on verge of restoration project

DULUTH — A historic theater in downtown Duluth is one City Council vote away from a $30 million restoration project that officials hope could become the hub of the city’s historic downtown.

The Duluth Economic Development Authority voted unanimously last week to approve a development agreement to refurbish the historic NorShor Theatre. The Duluth City Council is now expected to take up the issue Monday night.

Built in 1910, the NorShor has taken turns as a vaudeville stage, movie theater, music venue and even a strip club. The plan now is for it to become a performing arts center providing space for The Duluth Playhouse, one of the nation’s oldest community theaters, according to the Star Tribune.

Mayor Emily Larson said the 650-seat theater will fill a need for a higher-capacity space in Duluth’s burgeoning arts scene.

“We really do need one more place to showcase not just our local efforts but touring opportunities that right now pass us by,” she said. “I think this vision moving forward beautifully illustrates who we’ve become.”

If approved by the council, the financial closing on the deal is scheduled for late this month. Construction could begin soon after, with an anticipated completion date of December 2017.