The Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center (H*MAC) today offered details of its newest phase of construction, which will include a basement dance club and a new restaurant concept.
Co-owner Chris Werner today said that some construction had already begun to improve the 34,000-square-foot venue’s façade and roof, but that most work on the project will take place over the coming months.
“We’re really excited to finally complete this unique project, which has been in the works for decades, and serve it up the community for its enjoyment,” he said, in a statement.
In May, Werner, along with co-owners Chuck London and Javier Diaz, bought the mixed-used entertainment and restaurant space and the business from owners Bartlett, Traynor & London LLC for $6 million. Last year, the prior owners declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which former co-owner John Traynor blamed partly on a social media firestorm aimed at the venue.
Werner said that the first major change will be renovations and rebranding at The Kitchen & Gallery Bar, which will be renamed The Green Room, beginning in early August. He said that a Philadelphia-based restaurant consultant, JT Hearn, will lead a culinary team that will roll out a new food and drink menu that will focus on “innovative” and locally sourced items. In addition, the restaurant and bar space will include new furniture and décor.
The two existing entertainment spaces will also see significant changes, Werner said.
Stage on Herr, which was H*MAC’s original venue when it opened in 2009, will be redesigned and rebranded as Stage Right. The 350-person nightclub and gallery will feature a wider stage, stadium seating and sound system upgrades.
Upstairs, the Capitol Room, will include a new balcony, two new bars and new bathrooms, as well as new green rooms and other amenities for performers, Werner said. Above that, H*MAC plans to finish the rooftop, converting it to a beer garden.
The most significant change will be in the basement, which was built as an indoor pool when H*MAC served as the Harrisburg Jewish Community Center then, later, as the Harrisburg Police Athletic League.
According to Werner, the pool room will be converted to a “psychedelic” dance club dubbed “The Deep End.” Artists will be able to create installations inside the pool area, viewable from holes above it.
“It will be a throwback to the days of dance clubs, while bringing the best of EDM and dance music to Harrisburg,” Werner said.
In late 2017, H*MAC received a $1 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant, which will finance much of the work, Werner has said previously.
When the project is done, H*MAC will employ some 80 people, Werner said. He added that the owners expect to donate 10 percent of profits for local charities.
Two Harrisburg companies are leading the build-out: the Office of Planning and Architecture led by Bret Peters and Smarter Design Group led by Jonathan Thomas.