Landmark Theater will change to the Altria Theater - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Landmark Theater will change to the Altria Theater

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The Landmark Theater will soon be known by a new name. Tobacco giant Altria just bought the naming rights.

The announcement on Thursday by Altria actually kicks off the CenterStage Foundation's endowment campaign to raise more funds to renovate the iconic theater.

When it comes to taking the stage, the show must go on.  However, the curtain is closed at the historic Landmark Theater. But a new partnership is giving the building a second act.  It starts with a new name.

"Today is the beginning of the Altria Theater," says Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones at a press conference on Thursday.

Altria bought the naming rights for $10-million.

"We thought this was an opportunity to provide support to this amazing venue and very important project," says Jennifer Hunter, a spokesperson for Altria client services.

The money will go towards the $50-million project; $14-million is coming from the city. The amount of disrepair can be overwhelming.  Mayor Jones says the city cannot do it alone.

"We don't think that tax dollars should be the only dollars that are used to make things like this happen," he said.

The hope is that this partnership with Altria will inspire other corporations to contribute.

"This is not a feel good project, this is a necessary project," says Mayor Jones.

Phase one includes addressing safety concerns like restoring the passenger elevator and the fire alarm system.

A new name brings different reactions.

"It's going to basically be a big advertisement," says Corey Martin, who lives in Richmond.

"I'm from Richmond, was born and bred and raised here.  And the Landmark Theater to me will always be the Mosque, like the Nickel Bridge will always be the Nickel Bridge," says Joe Lowry, who also lives in Richmond.

But the focus for project leaders is to raise the funds so that this is not the last call for the iconic building.  By October of next year, this building will officially be known as The Altria Theater

Phase one of the project is scheduled for Monday.  The theater is expected to open this Fall, but it will take about three years for all the renovations to be complete

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