Yesterday, after months of planning, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra purchased the property known as “The Plaza Live,” located at 425 Bumby Ave, for $3.4 million. The sale included the Plaza Live building, all its contents and the Plaza Live business, which currently presents more than 135 events each year. The Philharmonic is planning extensive renovations that will provide a new home for the orchestra, including offices, a rehearsal hall and performance space for the orchestra, as well as upgrade the venue so it can continue operating as a one of Florida’s premiere rock, pop, jazz and contemporary concert venues.
“Our vision is to create a 21st century, live music venue, well-suited to a variety of genres, including and especially the Orlando Philharmonic,” said David Schillhammer, executive director of the orchestra. “After the renovations, this is not only going to be a home for us, but a place where all music fans—classical, rock, jazz and others—can enjoy live music together.”
The Philharmonic and the current staff at The Plaza Live are working with architecture firm Lyman Davidson Dooley, Inc. to plan renovations to the building’s existing lobby, theaters and exterior, as well as additions for office space, hospitality facilities, a sheet music library, dressing rooms and storage. Contractor bidding and initial renovations are scheduled to begin before the end of the year. Schillhammer said The Plaza Live will continue to operate normally through at least May 2014, during the initial renovations. The scope and timing of additional renovations will depend on the progress of the orchestra’s capital campaign, to be launched this fall. Additional renovations could begin as early as next summer.
Plaza Live General Manager Kirk Colvin says the purchase is a win-win for The Plaza Live.
“This is a very exciting time,” he said. “Improvements to the venue are going to make the concert experience better for everyone. On top of that, working in the same building with an orchestra means we can present new concerts and stretch the boundaries of both organizations.”
A recent independent appraisal valued The Plaza Live building and its contents at $4.2 million. Philharmonic Board President Michael Elsberry says the $3.4 million purchase price is supported through a combination of philanthropy and bank financing. He says future renovations will be funded by a major capital campaign, to be launched this season.
“The acquisition and restoration of The Plaza signals the beginning of a new era for the Philharmonic,” said Elsberry. “Revitalizing this historic landmark to create our home will not only strengthen and energize our musicians, staff members and volunteers, but help us expand our reach in the community, and build a sustainable future for music in Central Florida. We look forward to working with our supporters and the community to realize this vision for our future.”
Board members have already contributed $1.735 million toward the project.
After renovations, The Plaza Live building will be home to the orchestra’s four-concert “Focus” chamber orchestra series and five-concert “Sounds of Summer” chamber music series, as well as new programs. The Philharmonic will continue to perform its major classics, pops and opera events at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, and eventually at the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts, after the completion of the acoustic hall.
Entering its 21st season in 2013-2014, the Orlando Philharmonic is Central Florida’s resident professional orchestra, comprised of talented musicians recruited from around the world. The Philharmonic inspires audiences with over 125 musical experiences annually, ranging from classical and chamber music concerts to pops performances, staged opera productions, outdoor concerts and education programs for all ages. Committed to building a sustainable future for classical music, the Philharmonic currently has a budget of $3.6 million, holds an endowment of $4 million, and has maintained a balanced budget every year of its existence. Learn more at www.OrlandoPhil.org | @OrlandoPhilOrch | Facebook.com/OrlandoPhilOrch
The Plaza Live was originally built as Orlando’s first multi-screen movie theatre in 1963. After years of passing between owners, it was given new life in the late 2000s when it was transformed into a concert venue. The Plaza Live currently hosts more than 135 rock, jazz, comedy, and contemporary music events annually, selling over 65,000 tickets per year. In 2010, it was ranked by Pollstar as one of the Top 100 Worldwide Club Venues. www.PlazaLiveOrlando.com | @PlazaLiveOrl | Facebook.com/ThePlazaTheatre