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Developer buys New Orleans theater

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The State Palace Theater on Canal Street has been purchased by commercial developer Gregor Fox for $3.5 million.

The 3,000-seat theater was built in 1926 but has been mostly idle since the flooding of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"It is a property that is good for not only traditional shows like ballet and theater," Fox said. "You can have corporate events there. It's essentially a very big event space but the thing that attracted me to this property — it had the attached retail component to the building."

Fox told Nola.comThe Times-Picayune that (http://bit.ly/1oCkeg9) he hopes to have the building's exterior and retail tenant space renovated within two years. The theater, one of several theaters that anchor the west end of the Canal Street commercial strip, is boarded-up.

A full restoration could take up to 10 years, Fox said. He said he expects the renovation to cost about $10 million.

"My engineer has said he's never seen a building from the 1920s that's in as good a condition as the State Palace," Fox said.

The previous owner was Torre Realty, according to New Orleans property records.

Built in the 1920s for $1.5 million, the theater was flooded during Katrina and was used only sporadically before being shut down for fire safety violations in 2007.

A pre-storm plan to transform it into a music museum and concert hall wasn't carried out.

The sale comes on the heels of a revival beginning at the Orpheum Theater, part of a budding downtown theater district that includes the post-Katrina reopening of the Saenger and Joy theaters, which are near the State Palace.

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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