Suburban World Theater returns to the spotlight with fresh idea

The potential buyer may open a bar and event space.

A new team has the Suburban World Theater under contract for purchase, and they’re thinking tapas, cocktails, wedding receptions, theater tours and live music.

“We’ll open it back up to the public,” said Amy Reher, a partner in the project.

She said tours would be available during non-event hours so that everyone can enter and experience the historic theater.

Photo courtesy City of Minneapolis
Photo courtesy City of Minneapolis

The partnership includes Doug Hoskin, who purchased the downtown Armory back when it was vacant in 1999 and made it into a parking garage.

They envision a small bar with a light menu. The space would hold between 450-600 people for live music, Reher said.

Suburban World has been closed for at least seven years.

A Florida-based real estate firm bought the theater from a bank and planned to renovate it for a single retail tenant, and the city approved those plans in 2013. The company started demolition and some construction, but the work was never completed, according to the city.

The new owners would keep the theater marquee, but they would prefer to say goodbye to the “Suburban World” name.

“For an urban area, it doesn’t seem to fit well,” Reher said.

She said a potential new name would incorporate Granada, the theater’s original name. (City staff are recommending that the Suburban World letters stay in place.)

Suburban World application-page-024Granada was originally meant to evoke a cultural center in medieval Spain. The auditorium was inspired by a Persian garden. The curved ceiling simulated a night sky, with twinkling stars, projected clouds and a moon that rose and set during films.

According to a city staff report, it was the first neighborhood theater to show talking pictures.

“The Granada Theater is also the only surviving example of an atmospheric auditorium in Minneapolis and one of the last remaining in the state,” says the report.

Reher said they plan to restore the theater as much as feasibly possible, in keeping with the original Spanish Churrigueresque Revival design.

Pending city approval, they aim to reopen the theater in the spring or early summer of 2019.

The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission will review the plans at a public hearing on June 19.

A rendering of event space proposed for the renovated theater.
A rendering of event space proposed for the renovated theater.