VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) — Wednesday marks one year since Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida. The storm changed communities along the Gulf Coast forever.
In Sarasota County, the impact of Ian crushed the Venice Theatre. One year later, crews are moving forward with the rebuilding process.
Restoration Director Murray Chase was one of the first theatre members to see the building after the storm.
“It was a punch in the guy,” he said, “the building which had stood for 100 years was pretty much blown up from the inside.”
At the time, the top of the structure was gone, walls were crumbling, and debris was scattered across the parking lot. According to Chase, crews continued finding new damage for months after the hurricane.
On the storm’s anniversary, they’re moving forward with the $16 million reconstruction.
“It’s going to be taller to meet our industry standards of what a fly loft needs to look like, it’s going to be a little more spacious backstage and across the stage, it’s going to be far more modern in its operation,” Chase said.
He said it will be over two years before shows return to the main stage. In the meantime, they’ve transformed a former business building on the property into a performance space.
“We still have a way to go, but we’re confident we’re going to get there with room to spare,” Chase said.
He said the next steps are tearing out the stage and repouring portions of the foundation.