New music venue to open in 2015, aims to attract more artists

Orpheum owner says he's not worried, competition is good
New music venue to open in 2015, aims to attract more artists
East Washington Avenue

A new privately-funded live-music venue is coming to Madison by 2015, according to Frank Productions.

Frank Productions announced plans Thursday to build the venue in the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue.

According to Fred Frank, chief operating officer of Frank Productions, the currently nameless venue will be uniquely Madison.

“We intend to create a space that’s both easy and exciting for artists, as well as a venue that the Madison community can support and be proud of. We want the venue to become a Madison destination,” Frank said.

Frank said he wants to build the 46,000-square-foot music venue to accommodate touring artists and their fans, which Frank said the community has been missing.

“It’s just going to be built for what the touring artists are looking for today. They can’t play every venue across the country. They are going to play the ones where they think the best fans are and where the best facilities are,” Frank said.

“This concert venue could bring a great deal of dynamism and excitement to the area,” said Ledell Zellers, District 2 alder. “I’m encouraged that a local, multi-generational family business is interested in making this large of an investment in the near east side.”

Zellers said neighbors will be involved in the planning process.

The 46,000-square-foot venue will hold an audience of 2,000 and be flexible enough to accommodate more intimate performances. The facility could also be used to host corporate events, community events and private parties.

Despite the new potential competition, Gus Paras, owner of the Orpheum in downtown, said he’s not worried.

“Competition is always good. It’s going to make us work harder, and that’s good,” Paras said.

Paras took over the Orpheum Theater last November and since then has spent over $500,000 renovating the 1852 building.

A building, he said, historically will stand the test of time.

“You have to be open-minded and you have to work harder than the next guy to do a better job. It doesn’t matter how big they make it, whatever they do. There is only one Orpheum,” he said.

Frank said revitalizing the east side is the next big opportunity.

“Madison does really support its music, and we just think this is going to be a home run out of the park,” Frank said.

Frank Productions said the project will be privately funded. They expect to begin construction in six months and hope to have the facility completed by 2015.