City, Music Hall reach 75-year lease agreement

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati and the Music Hall Revitalization Company (MHRC) held a news conference on Wednesday to discuss the Music Hall revitalization project.

Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory and MHRC President and Chairman Otto M. Budig Jr. announced a lease that will preserve and modernize Music Hall. The lease is for 75 years and includes the City's already-approved $10 million commitment to the project.

"I always said that we would get a deal done to preserve and update Music Hall.  It is simply too important to our cultural heritage," Mayor Mark Mallory said.  "The renovation will transform Music Hall by merging the old world and the new.  The audience will enjoy all of the modern comforts and technology, while retaining the grandeur of experiencing a performance in this historic architectural landmark.  I want to thank and congratulate Otto Budig and the Music Hall Revitalization Company for their dedication to this great institution."

Lease agreement discussions have been in the works for months.

"While there has been some inference that we were not moving quickly enough you have to understand that creating an agreement of this complex must be fair not only to MHRC but also to the City of Cincinnati," Budig said.

As to next steps, Budig said MHRC has been reviewing the overall financing strategy and re-evaluating the project's primary goals based on community feedback with the cultural institutions that call Music Hall home.  The result is an evolving plan with a reduced scope that remains focused on the audience experience while addressing the building's pressing needs.

The project has been scaled back from an earlier projection of $165 million down to $95 million due to the "fiscal reality" the project is facing.

"Rest assured our project remains momentous," Budig said. "Our project certainly contains the wow factor."

He said MHRC intends to announce more detailed plans in the first quarter of 2013, though a more comfortable seating arrangement, greatly enhanced accessibility and expanded restroom capacity are sure to be included.  Structural issues will be addressed as well.

"I'm also happy to report that we will be installing new escalators that will be better positioned to improve safety," said Budig.

Budig said no timetable had yet been established.  Once construction does begin, Budig says it will last 17 months.

"The worst thing we could do is to start this project without the financial resources and the pledges available to make it happen and we are not going to do that," he said.

Music Hall is the home of  the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Ballet and May Festival.

MHRC was formed to oversee a revitalization of Music Hall that improves the patron experience, addresses structural needs and ensures the continued sustainability of the arts organizations that call the building home.

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