Saenger Theater renovations tabled for now

Saenger Theater renovations tabled for now

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -It’s been a part of Biloxi’s history since 1929, but right now the Saenger Theater sits dark as plans for much needed renovations are still in the works.

As WLOX News Now has reported in the past, renovations to the interior and exterior of the Saenger have been part of the city’s improvement tableau for quite some time. While city officials tell us engineers and architects have plans in place, one missing key actor in this production is money.

“We did not get the HUD money,” said Cecilia Dobbs-Walton, public affairs specialist for the City of Biloxi. “The city still has their portion of the money, but they’re planning to use it for the exterior repairs, and again that all depends on the bids. The first step right now is to fix the fly tower and get that done with bids going out at the end of this year and work to start on that.”

Dobbs-Walton also said engineers and architects are working with Mississippi Department of Archives and History to determine what repairs are needed for the entire structure.

The Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra is one of many organizations that frequently uses the Saenger. Orchestra President John McFarland said he compares this situation to a football team having to play all its games on the road.

The symphony’s season began in September, and for the time being McFarland said it’ll play most of its concerts at Gulfport’s First United Methodist Church. The city hopes those future concerts will be back at Saenger within the next couple of years.

“The city wants to make sure the repairs are done right and that the building is useful,’ Walton-Dobbs added. “Mayor Gilich says this a gem and this is a main part of his downtown revitalization. Nobody wants this to take this long but the focus is to get this building back up and running.”

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