BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Construction is set to begin this fall on a new performance and event space next to the Hippodrome Theatre that will allow the arts complex to host more shows and cater to smaller performing arts groups.

The Hippodrome Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit hosting outreach and education programs in the larger France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, announced on Tuesday that crews will begin the $18.6 million renovation of a former bank next to the theater in the coming months.

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The project is expected to be completed in 2023. Once finished, the new space, known as M&T Bank Pavilion, will allow the arts center to collectively seat 3,200 people and host hundreds of events, including regional and touring shows that are smaller than the Broadway productions on the main stage.

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“This new space will allow the Foundation to provide even more educational programming and diverse arts presentations while offering an accessible, more affordable rental space for smaller cultural organizations,” said said Wally Pinkard, chairman of the Hippodrome Foundation. “It’s a winner.”

According to the foundation’s website, the building that will house the new space was originally constructed as the Eutaw Savings Bank in 1881 and has sat empty since the theater reopened in 2004 following an extensive renovation.

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The state acquired the old movie palace and vaudeville theater and three adjacent buildings in the 1990s to create the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, according to the foundation.

CBS Baltimore Staff