Today Jazz St. Louis launched the public phase of a $10M campaign to reimagine and expand the jazz experience in St. Louis’ Grand Center arts district. With commitments of $5.8M to-date, work is already underway at 3540 Washington Boulevard, adjacent to Jazz at the Bistro.
The new larger facility will accommodate seating for 220, add a lounge with additional seating for 75, greatly expand space for jazz education and provide room for Jazz St. Louis staff to reside in one location. The 150 seats currently offered regularly sell out and staff is located at the nearby Arts & Education Council building.
As reported by nextSTL in February, B.B. Kings Restaurant and Blues Club will anchor a renovated Missouri Theatre Building a block to the north. A stunning renovation of the Sun Theatre has recently been completed, and the Public Media commons at the Nine Network and St. Louis Public Radio is under construction.
Nearly two decades ago, Jazz at the Bistro was launched in a space that was once home to the Pope Cafeteria, and had seen other restaurants come and go. Grand Center, Inc. invited the late Barbara Rose to move her “Just Jazz” program from the Hotel Majestic in downtown St. Louis to the space and Jazz at the Bistro was born.
Now named Jazz St. Louis, the non-profit purchased the building that houses Bistro and the adjacent building at 3540 Washington from Grand Center, Inc. earlier this year. The three-story former Greenberg Van Doren Gallery Building was built in 1930 and has a footprint of 4,500sf according to city records.
“After analyzing jazz centers across the country and years of planning, we are primed to deliver a world class experience for fans of all ages to experience and study jazz,” Gene Dobbs Bradford, Executive Director of Jazz St. Louis stated in a press release. “We’re confident this redesign will place St. Louis among the top five jazz hubs in the world.” The expanded and improved facility is projected to nearly double attendance by 2017.
According to the release: The project became a reality as a result of leadership gifts by David & Thelma Steward, John & Alison Ferring, Centene Corporation, Ken & Nancy Kranzberg, Emerson, the Jazz St. Louis Board of Directors, and other jazz patrons in excess of $5.8 million. The remaining $4 million will be raised during the public phase of the capital campaign.
The main performance space will see the stage moved to the east wall, from the south, placing more people closer to the performers. The second floor balcony will be expanded as well. The Jazz Lounge will feature live video of performances for those wished to catch some jazz before visiting another Grand Center venue.
The jazz education and practice space will feature six soundproof, individual, and small group practice rooms and two large rehearsal studios. A recording studio will facilitate recording and live streaming performances to an online audience.
Sam Berkow, acoustician for San Francisco’s SFJazz Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and other venues is responsible for sound design. The Lawrence Group has designed the space, Jamieson Design is responsible for the Bistro’s interior finishes, and BSI Constructors is managing the project.
Jazz St. Louis’ new and expanded facilities will be The Harold and Dorothy Steward Center for Jazz, housing the brand new Centene Jazz Education Center and the completely redesigned and renovated Ferring Jazz Bistro, home of the Jazz at the Bistro concert series.
“My parents, Harold and Dorothy Steward, were passionate advocates of arts and education,” said Dave Steward in a statement provided by Jazz St. Louis. “My wife, Thelma, and I are eternally grateful that the new facilities will represent their legacy and incorporate an educational pillar to enrich the jazz community.”
Construction is underway and is scheduled to be completed by October. Musician Wynton Marsalis has been booked for the inaugural concert for the newly redesigned space.