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Flushing theater returns

By Alex Robinson

Flushing Town Hall, a popular venue for jazz concerts, musical performances and plays, reopened its theater last weekend after a $1.2 million face-lift.

The theater’s renovation, which started in October, included new wood floors, an expanded stage and a new paint job.

It was the first major renovation of the space since it was originally built in the 1990s as part of an adaptive reuse of the building.

The 308-seat theater also got new seats and risers, which can be moved so that the space can host banquets or other events that would require tables rather than auditorium seating.

“The theater gets very heavy usage. At this point the renovation was way overdue,” said Ellen Kodadek, executive and artistic director for Flushing Town Hall.

The renovation was purely cosmetic as no major structural changes were made, Kodadek said.

The five-month closure of the theater caused a headache for the arts center, which usually presents jazz, world music and theater programs.

“We had a couple of grueling months because the building was open during the renovations,” Kodadek said. “We moved our programs into our galleries as the renovations went on around us.”

While the theater was closed the center also lost a large amount of revenue it usually raises through programming and by renting out the space.

“So that made it rough,” Kodadek said.

Flushing’s Town Hall, at 137-35 Northern Blvd., was built in 1862 and served as the municipal seat of government before it eventually housed the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.

The center is part of the Cultural Institution Group, a public-private partnership between the city and 34 cultural institutions that include the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center in Manhattan.

In addition to the theaters’ new interior, the project included new wood floors on the first floor of the building as well as an upgraded heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit, which will be more energy efficient.

The city footed the bill for the renovation and the project was managed by the city Department of Design and Construction.

The arts center kicked off its spring 2014 program with a sold-out performance of “The Snail and the Whale” by Tall Stories, a British theater troupe, March 13.

Kodadek said Flushing Town Hall is next planning to renovate a parking lot on Linden Place to provide more parking space for theatergoers and members.

“Everyone should come and see the new space,” she said. “It’s for them and there are a lot of great programs here.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at arobinson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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