PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The City of Portland has a big decision to make about one of the city’s oldest and most active performance venues.

Built in 1917, the Keller Auditorium is home to traveling Broadway shows, operas and ballets, however the building needs seismic and other upgrades to extend its life.

In late September, City Council will consider moving forward with replacing or preserving one of Portland’s most important performance spaces. While the city owns the building, Metro operates it.

A number of entities, including Portland State University, OMSI, the Lloyd Center and Zidell Yard are developing proposals to build a new performance venue elsewhere in the city.

Meanwhile, Halprin Landscape Conservancy has already developed renderings and a proposal to upgrade the Keller at its current location.

Scott Andrews, co-chair of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy, which received grants from the city and Metro to look at options for the Keller, says there are several reasons why the Keller should be renovated rather than replaced.

“Frankly, it’s the right thing to do. It’s a hundred-year-old structure and the City of Portland doesn’t generally destroy hundred-year-old historic structures. Portland City Hall, the Portland Building are good examples of that,” Andrews said. “The building was the only one left standing after the PDC redevelopment of the south auditorium district took place. And frankly, the neighborhood was built around it…it’s kind of the glue that holds that neighborhood together.”

Andrews added that the Keller plays an important part in the Portland arts and cultural neighborhood along with Lincoln Hall, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Historical Society.

In addition to the Keller’s historical significance, Andrews argues that the auditorium should be renovated because of the venue’s proximity to parking garages, restaurants and hotels, noting, “for what we’ve seen of the alternative sites, that infrastructure doesn’t exist.”

According to Andrews, full renovation estimates run at $250 million with construction taking place over a 19-month period.

“That includes everything, that includes handicap access; adjusted main seating areas so, that the slope isn’t so big that so that you have a problem getting down to the stage; acoustics, delivery, backstage amenities; storage; patron facilities; and it even includes a bar and a restaurant,” Andrews said of the potential upgrades.

Meanwhile, building a new auditorium at a different location comes with an estimated $517 million price tag, excluding land acquisition, with a longer projected construction period, Andrews said.

While Broadway shows may have to search for other venues during construction, Andrews says opera and ballet shows can still survive during the Keller’s renovation for one season.

On September 27, Andrews says Halprin Landscape Conservancy will present their findings and suggestions to City Council before lawmakers make their decision on the Keller’s future in the spring of 2024.

If approved, renovations could start in 2027 or sooner depending on the city’s actions, Andrews said, adding, “we think another facility would be wonderful, we just don’t think it should replace the Keller.”