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Ann Arbor's State Theatre in line for $5M in upgrades this fall


The Michigan Theater Foundation has big plans for the State Theatre, and they start with a major renovation of the historic building early this fall.

"We believe it will be an excellent place to see a movie," says Russ Collins, executive director of the Michigan Theater Foundation. "All of the uncomfortable seating will be removed."

The Michigan Theater Foundation overseas the care and operation of the historic Michigan Theater building on East Liberty. The State Theatre is a half block away at the intersection of East Liberty and State streets. It was built in 1942 and designed by C. Howard Crane, a world-famous architect of cinemas in the early 20th Century.

The State Theatre was renovated in the late 1980s and early 1990s and continued showing movies with retail in the ground floor. The building is split into two condos, one for the theater and the other for the ground floor retail space currently occupied by Urban Outfitters. The Michigan Theater Foundation took over programming at the State Theatre in 1999 and purchased the theater condo in 2014.

The Michigan Theater Foundation is now in the final stages of planning the $5 million renovation of that condo. The project will make the building ADA compliant and add an elevator in the rear alley. The theater marquee will be restored to its former glory.

"We will refurbish the sign and make it look like it did in 1942," Collins says.

The theater portion will be divided into four smaller screen. The smallest screen will be able to seat 50 and the largest will seat 180. The mezzanine area at the front of the theater will also be restored to its original grandeur.

"It was the most amazing art deco space," Collins says.

Construction is set to begin on Sept. 6 and take 8-12 months to complete.
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