Construction on Miller Theater set to start

Miller Theater LLC says construction will begin in August 2016, and that by next winter, the theater will re-open as a 1300-seat performing arts hall.
Construction on the Miller Theater will begin August 2016. By next winter, the theater will re-open as a 1300-seat performing arts hall.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)- The Miller Theater has been out of use for three decades, but after more than five years of studies, planning and fundraising, the historic Augusta landmark is going to be refurbished.

“Between a SPLOST award that we’ve received, historic tax credits we received, and significant private contributions from the community, we’re ready to start building,” said Joe Huff, Vice President of Miller Theater LLC.

The group says construction will begin in August 2016, and that by next winter, the Miller will be a 1300-seat performing arts hall.

“We’re bringing it back to the original carpet, walls, and everything inside the building will look as it did back in 1936 when it was originally constructed,” said Chris Lehi of 2KM Architects, who is overseeing the project.

Modern conveniences will be added, as well an a nine-foot expansion of the stage.

“It’ll be done in such a way that it blends in,” Lehi said.

The theater has undergone years of analysis to make sure that it can successfully transition from a movie theater to a performing arts theater.

“We did a sound check, where our acoustician put musicians on the stage [and] brought people in to simulate an audience,” Huff said. “There’s not a bad seat in the house. It’s really amazing.”

Between the Imperial Theater, Bell Auditorium, James Brown arena, and the Miller Theater, Huff believes that Augusta has the capability to bring in people from outside the area to see shows.

“We’ve seen what’s happened in Greenville, in Chattanooga, Columbus and even Newberry, S.C.,” he said. “We think August is missing out, and this is going to turn things around.”

It won’t come cheap. The project costs $23 million.

“We’re just thrilled that this community has supported it, and I’m convinced that there’s going to be a huge return on this investment, both in terms of quality of life and revitalizing that part of lower Broad,” Huff said.

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