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Straz Center Plans Big Renovations

Officials at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts are looking to upgrade the center’s building, as well as its image.

On Tuesday, they unveiled concept plans for building and renovation at the Straz Center’s riverfront property that could cost up to $100 million. Plans include an expanded lobby, a modern multi-purpose center for and a backlit sculpture in the middle of the Hillsborough River.

Straz Center CEO Judith Lisi said she hopes the renovations will make the performing arts center a bigger draw for young people and those who want to enjoy the Riverwalk -- not just a show. 

“We just want to blow the walls out and invite the community,” Lisi said. “We want them to look at it like their living room. This is their place to be.”

Food and drink service will be a big part of creating a new atmosphere for the Straz Center. Artist renderings show a rooftop bar above the new oval events center and a café located inside the Straz Center’s new expanded lobby.

Lisi said the new ship deck-like lobby will stretch out almost to the Riverwalk. No ticket would be required to access the new areas.

Additionally, the renovation plans call for the creation of new administrative offices so the Patel Conservatory can gain a fourth floor to expand their arts education programming.

Straz Center officials are conducting a feasibility study now that will identify grant funding sources. Since its inception in 1987, the center has been a public-private partnership with the land owned by the city of Tampa.