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Peabody: Ahead of Schedule, On Budget, Poised to Profit

Megan Lynch
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – After decades of dormancy the historic Peabody Opera House — formerly Kiel — re-opens this Fall.

KMOX has learned work is ahead of schedule and within budget.

Across the state another renovated landmark — Kansas City’s Union Station — has posted it’s best financial performance with a more than $4-million surplus.

As KMOX News checked in for a construction update, we wanted to know if St. Louis could see the same returns as K.C., and find out how soon the nearly $80 million combination of bonds, tax credits, loans, and private financing will pay off.

“I don’t know that we’ve got a time-table that says the money’s recouped by such and such a time, but I know that we’re on a very fast track,” responds Mike McCarthy, Vice Chairman of SCP Worldwide.

And could it bring the same returns or better as Union Station in Kansas City, which reopened in 1999?

“That’s certainly the goal and I believe it’s realistic that we would have that kind of impact — we collectively the Scotttrade Center, the Peabody Opera House, the St. Louis Blues — we know that this is going to be an entertainment destination, this whole block on Market Street.”

How does McCarthy have such confidence?  The Peabody’s past is fueling it’s future. 

From the Rat Pack to Ray Charles to the Rolling Stones, the history of the Opera House is impressive.  “That matters to people and it certainly matters to today’s promoters,” says McCarthy, adding the venue is already being received with enthusiasm from the music and performance world.

“Many of the things that seemed like dreams and aspirations just two years ago are reality now.”

Crews are meeting deadlines.  Right now they’re working on the ceiling.

“Every seat has been removed from the actual theater and scaffolding is in, in order for workers to get up to the very top and resurface the dome and the fantastic ceiling,” and McCarthy says that’s presented a unique opportunity. “There’s a statue of St. Louis at the very top of the stage and if you’re on the top of this scaffolding — if you’re brave enough to get up there — you can actually touch that statue now which is gonna be an opportunity that will never happen again in about a month when the scaffolding comes down.”

So what’s on tap for opening night?

“We’re sitting tight with our news on opening night,” says McCarthy.  But he says soon after it opens in the Fall, the Peabody will feature “The Grinch” for the holidays — a show that had a successful run on Broadway.

Copyright KMOX Radio

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