The historic Rex Theatre located on 23 Amherst Street in downtown Manchester is up for bid. The Manchester Development Corporation (MDC) purchased the property in January and is looking for a business to renovate and operate the former theatre as a part of their ongoing project to revitalize Manchester neighborhoods.
In their request for proposals, the MDC said that they have “the goal of seeing it transformed into a venue for live music, theatre, movies, community events or another creative concept that will transform this building and improve Manchester’s downtown.” They are accepting proposals until Tuesday, Mar. 15 at 4 p.m.
Old Sol Productions, Limited-Liability Company (LLC), a new company looking to build a music venue, is working on a proposal to renovate the Rex Theater and turn it into Old Sol Music Hall, Inc. The music hall would lease the building from Old Sol Productions and would operate the venue as a not-for-profit.
Manchester residents Matt and Jody Wilhelm, along with other members of Old Sol Productions, want to restore the theater and transform it into a positive social hub for the city. Their tagline, “More Than Music,” represents their vision for the music hall to transform and give back to the greater Manchester community.
In a promotional video for the project, Matt Wilhelm said, “We saw firsthand the power of music to bring people together and make a difference in local communities around the world… this 350 seat not-for-profit performance space and community center would… [support] the greater Manchester community beyond just being a concert venue.”
Old Sol Music Hall would do three things to support its mission: donate $1 per ticket to a donor advised organization through their More Than Music Fund, organize a donation drive at every show, and facilitate pre-show service projects for student organizations, patrons, community members, and other civic groups.
Wilhelm also mentions in the promotional video that he hopes the Old Sol Music Hall would give millennials another reason to stay and live in NH after they graduate from college. As of right now, many college students do not remain in NH after they have obtained their degree. Old Sol Productions’ proposal will compete with other businesses’ proposals for the site, and a final decision will be made sometime after Mar. 15. Their proposed use of the facility complements MDC’s goal for it, and Old Sol has already secured commitments totaling more than $350,000 to support their project.
If the Old Sol Music Hall becomes a reality, Southern New Hampshire University student organizations could partner with them for volunteer projects. Organizations like Outreach, a volunteer club on campus, or any other clubs that want to give back to the greater Manchester community, would have the option of working on one of those pre-show service projects that Matt Wilhelm mentions in their promotional video.
The greater Manchester community will wait to see whose business proposal will be accepted, the deadline is Mar. 15, to find out how the 75 year old Rex Theatre will be renovated.