Changing ownership of the old St James Theatre on Queen St, Auckland, has raised hope for restoration of the historic venue, which has been seven years in mothballs.
While looking dilapidated from the outside, the grand-style decoration and size of the theatre was apparent when the new owners allowed media in to take a look.
Since opening in 1928, the theatre has played host to performances by Lawrence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, the Bolshoi Ballet as well as the 1981 Royal Variety Performance from Queen Elizabeth II.
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Under a previous developer's ownership, it was a contemporary music performance venue before it was closed in 2007, due to concern over the results of a fire in and adjacent theatre building.
New owner since last week, Relianz Holdings, said it will work with the heritage developer Notable Properties Trust to assess the building's condition and the work needed to get the theatre open -- a stepped process which will include earthquake strengthening.
However, the restoration of St James Theatre is a trade-off for a bigger development.
The Queen St frontage of the old theatre complex is the site for a 39-level tower, costing $175 million, which will have more than 300 apartments when it opens in 2018.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown said Auckland ratepayers would be pleased that a private enterprise project will heal the "festering sore" of the run-down St James.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Auckland and anyone who has fond recollections of the theatre."