CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall is requesting a $3 million grant from the city to help complete the $21 million renovation of its facility on McMullen Booth Road.
The Expanding the Experience project began in 2015 with a renovation of the Murray Theatre, including a new ticket office, lobby and bar, and lighting and sound improvements. The nonprofit has made upgrades to the Margarete Heye Great Room with new paint, carpets, seating improvements and a new kitchen and a new HVAC system throughout the building.
Ruth Eckerd is currently relandscaping and lighting the 40-acre arrival area and parking lots with a new configuration of the main lobby and entrance to improve traffic patterns. The project is expected to move this month to the interior phase to expand the west lobby by six times the current size for a new Cabaret Theatre stage and dining area. The 34-year-old orchestra shell will also be re-engineered to accommodate the acoustics for the Florida Orchestra.
Ruth Eckerd has so far raised $17 million of the $21 million total, including $5.5 million from Pinellas County bed tax funding, $3 million from the state and the rest from private sources.
The City Council is expected to vote on the funding request March 1.