Rex rebirth plan approved by Aldermen

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Old Rex Theater location on Amherst Street (credit – Carol Robidoux)

MANCHESTER, NH. – A rebirth for the historic Rex Theater may finally be coming to fruition after Tuesday’s support from the Manchester Board of Aldermen.

The aldermen approved an agreement between the Manchester Development Corporation (MDC) and the Palace Theatre Trust (PTT) to renovate the historic property on Amherst Street, known for years as Club Liquid before it was shuttered in 2001.

Under the agreement, the PTT will spearhead renovation of the property, expected to cost $1.7 million. After renovations are complete, the MDC will repay funds advanced by PTT with the interest of 2 percent per annum and also obtain rights to a quitclaim deed on the property.

As a non-profit entity, the PTT would not pay property taxes on the building, but offered to pay $7,500 to the city in lieu of taxes for a period of 10 years, an offer that was waived in an amendment by Alderman Joseph Kelly Levasseur.

Numerous efforts to reopen the facility, such as that of the Old Sol Music Hall in 2017 have failed, but Palace Theatre President Peter Ramsey expects the reborn Rex to serve as a 300-seat auxiliary venue for the Palace. In a vision proposed by Ramsey, he told the board that he expects the new Rex to provide a place for performances that may not fill the Palace as well as movies, private weddings and even corporate meetings.

Alderman Tony Sapienza praised Ramsey for his vision as well as his diligence on the financial planning for the facility’s renovation.

“A lot of groups come here for a tax break, I’ll send them to you to learn how to do it right,” he said.

Renovations are slated to begin in January 2019, concluding nine months later.