Cincinnati seeks approval of $135M renovations to Music Hall

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati’s historic preservation staff is recommending that the Historic Conservation Board sign off on a $135 million makeover to the city’s Music Hall.

A public hearing on the project had been scheduled for Monday — the same day as MLB’s Opening Day. Officials changed it to April 11 amid concerns about getting enough public input on it, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported ( Thursday.

The plan includes moving the orchestra 9 feet closer to the audience on a stage that extends into the auditorium and downsizing the music hall by about 1,000 seats. The seats would be larger and offer more legroom.

The balconies would also be made steeper to accommodate affected sightlines, and wooden floors on the main floor would be replaced by concrete with a wooden overlay.

Other proposed changes include installing torchiere lighting along balcony railings in the lobby and adding a lounge, more bars, LED screens and restroom facilities.

A city report released Tuesday contained the historic preservation staff’s recommendation to approve the renovation plan.

“It’s all about taking a historic building and making modest changes to it and making it functional in today’s world while preserving character-defining features,” said Scott McIntosh, technical preservation services manager at the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office.

A prehearing was held March 9 with the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp., the project manager and city staff. Although technically public, prehearings aren’t highly publicized.

The conservation board must approve the proposal for most of the construction to begin. Officials have said they want to begin heavy construction after June 1 and plan to finish it by October 2017.


Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer,