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The soon to be renovated theater. (image credit: Old Sol Music Hall)

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Revitalizing Manchester’s Rex Theater

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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.