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Biloxi gets more time on grant to renovate downtown theater

A city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is getting more time to repair and renovate a downtown theater that hosts musicals and other productions.

Biloxi’s Saenger Theatre is temporarily closed for the $2.3 million project. A grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History required that the work be done by the end of this year, WLOX-TV reported. The department has approved an extension, giving the city until Dec. 1, 2020 to finish.

The theater opened in 1929 to show movies and vaudeville productions. It was sold to the city in 1975.

Phase one is to demolish the brick fly tower on the back of the theater. That work can’t be done until elevated utility lines behind a neighboring building are removed and work is done to fortify the alley between the buildings.

“Once the utilities have completely been removed and put underground and the alley has been stabilized, the contractor will start doing the work,” said Biloxi spokeswoman, Cecilia Dobbs-Walton. “Hopefully, that will be in the next couple of weeks. Once that is done, they’ll demo the top porting of the fly tower down to the roof line.”

Then work will begin replacing the heating and air conditioning system on the roof of the theater. While the exterior work is delayed, an assessment is being done to determine the scope of the work needed inside the Saenger.

“The contractor is already doing work you can’t see inside, getting the inspectors, getting everything they need,” Dobbs-Walton said. “Work is already going on. So, the project is moving on and with the extension, it should be complete by December 2020.”


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