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Symphony Hall to Anchor Arts Complex

“It’s a win-win proposition” for the symphony and the arts foundation, says Michelle Walter, vice president of operations for the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation.

Not to mention the city. Earlier plans had made the performing-arts center’s anchor the new home for TheatreVirginia, the now-defunct theater troupe.

With the new plan, the city can count on the symphony’s reliable benefactors to raise the funds to build the house to make the city more musical.

Symphony executives say that the complex is getting along — that is, getting funds — famously.

The music hall will be called something “flexible” like the Music Hall and will be used not only for symphony gigs but also for dance and stage productions, Walter says. The Richmond Ballet will dance there too, now that it’s lost its occasional stage at TheatreVirginia.

The revised plan for the arts center calls for the symphony to have its new home across from a greatly gentrified Carpenter Center and to flank a large two-story building that’s a jazz club downstairs and a versatile 200-seat theater upstairs.

Foundation and symphony reps say it’s too early to put a price tag on the project. Insiders put the cost for the music hall at about $38.5 million. Construction could begin in 18 to 24 months — once the Thalhimers building is razed. The design for the facility is modeled after the symphony hall in Hartford, Conn., which Fisk and others laud as one of the best they’ve seen.

“What has happened here is our partnership with the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation has become deeper,” Fisk says, then adds: “What we’re most excited about is putting the right product in the right place.”

— Brandon Walters

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