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Flooding delays completion of MKE’s Bradley Symphony Center

The Grand Theater, at W. 212 Wisconsin Ave., is undergoing a conversion to become the new home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

The Grand Theater, at W. 212 Wisconsin Ave., is undergoing a conversion to become the new home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.. (File photo by Kevin Harnack)

Flooding from an intense rain storm in May has led the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra to delay the opening of the $139 million Bradley Symphony Center until January, the organization announced Monday.

MSO had initially hoped to complete its ongoing conversion of the Warner Grand Theater, 200 W. Wisconsin Ave., by September. But a storm on May 18 caused flooding in the basement of the building, delaying completion of the project.

MSO’s general contractor, C.D. Smith, has been working through the summer to repair the damage and finish the renovation project, which calls for turning the theater into a performance space and offices for the orchestra. The organization began work on the project in 2018.

Although MSO expects work on the renovation to wrap up in early 2021, it’s not planning to welcome patrons back to the space when the project is finished. Instead, the organization, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, will present an all-virtual performance season for subscribers in 2021.

“After careful thought and consideration, both these challenges pointed us towards providing a certain, high quality virtual experience for our supporters,” said Mark Niehaus, president and executive director of the MSO, in a statement. “While we wish we could be together sooner, we look forward to the day when we can officially open the doors of the Bradley Symphony Center to our community. It will be well worth the wait!”

Correction: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra previously blamed a faulty steam tunnel for causing damage to its new theater. The organization has since said that it was flooding alone that damaged its building. This story has been updated to reflect that change.  

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