Valley concert promoter Charlie Levy’s growing empire of downtown Phoenix music venues is about to get larger.
That’s because he’s gearing up to open two different spots by this time next year, including a 1,800-person capacity spot that will be his biggest venue to date.
On Thursday, Levy told New Times of plans to debut a theater-like concert hall in downtown Phoenix sometime in spring 2017 that will be larger than his other venues, Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar.
“Phoenix is a growing city, and I think there's room for more venues and more options for people to see shows and more venue options for bands to play shows,” Levy says. “I think its going to be fun. I think downtown's growing tremendously and [there's a need] to have a music venue for a band that might be a little too big to play Crescent or Valley Bar.”
The 20,000 square-foot venue, which is currently unnamed, will be located in a historic building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Van Buren Street. Here's the kicker: it's within a short walking distance to both the Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar.
(It’s not the only downtown venue that Levy has in the works; he announced plans last month to transform the old Praise Sanctuary Church a few blocks west into an arts and cultural center.)
Much like a few of Levy’s other ventures, the property has a significant legacy that dates back to the first half of the 20th century. In this case, the building served as the home of the Phoenix Motor Company auto dealership back starting in 1939.
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“It’s this really neat space, a real treasure,” Levy says. “The inside is really great. There's a beautiful bow truss ceiling and it has great brick walls.”
The property is owned by Jim Kuykendall and Pat Cantelme, two local real-estate developers who recently rehabbed the Welnick Bros. Market and Liefgreen Seed Company buildings across the street. Levy says they were open to the idea of having in a concert hall in the old Phoenix Motor Company building.
“The owners of the building are really good guys, and they really wanted a music venue, and they really believe in downtown and historic preservation,” Levy says.
According to artists' renderings provided by Levy, the exterior of the building will be undergoing a complete renovation that will remove layers of stucco and attempt to restore it to its original look.
“With any sort of old building, you peel things away and take it back as far as you can,” he says.
Levy says the venue will be staffed by current employees and managers of the Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar
"I'm really excited to have the Crescent and Valley Bar team be a part of this and having them help run it. And that was super-important for me, because I think those guys and girls are amazing, and I couldn't do it if they weren't on board also."
Local bar impressario Tucker Woodbury, who helped Levy create the Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar, will also be involved with getting the theater up and running.
"He's also going to be part of the project,” Levy says. “I know I couldn't do something this big without him either. He's probably more excited than me since he's such a big music fan and he'll get to see more great bands.”
The chance to see more shows is one of the many reasons why Levy's bringing another music venue to downtown. He it both a progression of downtown's growth as a music destination.
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“I'm a big believer in downtown Phoenix, and I think it's just a natural progression,” Levy says. “I think it'll be neat for bands to play Valley Bar [and] Crescent, and then a year or two later play this venue on Van Buren. Ten years ago I would've said, 'No, its probably not needed,’ but in 2016, I think it's needed.”
As for why he prefers to have all his venues within close proximity, that's easy.
“It’s because I don't like to drive, so I could just walk between all of 'em,” Levy says. “That was a motivating factor.”
Editor's note: An earlier version of this blog erroneously reported that the venue's capacity was expected to be 1,000 and has since been updated. New Times regrets the error.