The last of what used to be 13 movie houses in north Minneapolis may soon undergo a multi-million dollar expansion and renovation project.
The Capri Theater, now a jazz venue and community gathering space, is set to expand onto three neighboring properties if Minneapolis City Council approves selling city land for $161,650 to the Plymouth Christian Youth Center, the theater's owner and operator. The council's Committee on Development held a public hearing Tuesday afternoon, and PCYC executive director Anne Long expects the full council to approve the sale next month.
Prince played one of his first major concerts at the Capri in the 1970s, and many diverse acts -- ranging from one-man shows to big bands -- have taken the stage since. The theater is important to the North Minneapolis community, Long said, and it now draws audiences from around the metro area.
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The Capri Theater is located at 2027 W Broadway Ave., in Minneapolis.
"It's really an important historic site for many reasons," Long said.
The 250-seat space venue won't change in capacity, but its backstage space and lobby will grow. Theater director Karl Reichert said the lobby gets tight during sold-out shows. Some theater companies have decided to perform elsewhere after seeing the Capri's limited backstage.
"When it comes down to the amenities that are needed, we just can't offer those at this time," Reichert said. "We just don't have them."
If the PCYC acquires the new properties, it also plans to add an outdoor plaza to the theater, expand community and youth programs, and provide new rental spaces.
PCYC poured almost $1 million into renovations for the 86-year-old theater in 2009, including upgrades to its lobby, marquee, and sound and lighting systems. Long said the upgrades have been in the works for about a decade, but economic conditions forced them to happen in segments.
The city of Minneapolis has invested in the area around the Capri by buying a total of eight properties using a $869,000 grant from the Metropolitan Council and more than $500,000 of city funds in 2010.