Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) -  A Rochester task force that has been looking at the future of the Chateau Theater has thrown its formal support behind a renovation plan that has an estimated price tag of $23-million.

Now it will be up to the City Council to decide if it’s a plan worth pursuing or if the cost is too much.

The city took ownership of the property last year at a cost of $6-million. It has already been designated a DMC project. This means DMC funds will be used to cover the renovation costs.

The council will also have to decide who should oversee the building’s operations. The task force has determined the property would need a $400,000 annual subsidy if the city assumes management. That would be a city expense, not DMC. The council could decide to bring in an outside management firm that would lower expenses.

City spokesman Aaron Reeves says the council doesn’t have the luxury of kicking the can down the road on making a decision because of other projects in the area.

One is a planned makeover of the Wells Fargo building located next door. Another is the planned redevelopment of the former Michaels restaurant site. Reeves says if the Chateau renovation is delayed, the project would eventually have an impact on the Peace Plaza area.

The task force recommendation is expected to be presented to the council next month.

Included in the renovation plan would be an expansion of the building into part of the alley on its east side.  A lower level would be added as would a state-of-the-art seating system that would give the building more user-friendly options.  The former balcony would be resurrected while retaining a skyway connection.

One other note - Reeves says the project could be eligible for up to $8-million in tax credits because of the building's historic designation.The developer would receive the credits and they would lower the project's cost by the same amount.

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