It took 16 years for Frank Gehry to finish the Walt Disney Concert Hall, so 14 years to renovate Newport Beach's historic Balboa Theater may be a little too much suspense.
Just ask taxpayers, who gave the theater's foundation $175,000 Tuesday when the City Council voted to revive long-stalled renovation work.
Arts-minded donors have also given $3 million since 1996. They dream of professional theater in their hometown and of a classy Balboa Peninsula. But with all this money and a list of wealthy backers, the foundation hasn't finished the job. Some wonder when, if ever, the curtain will rise again.
"I think people are leery; people want to see if it will actually happen," said Seth Siegel, chairman of the foundation board. His group plans to funnel the city's grant to theater architect John Fisher of John Sergio Fisher and Associates, who will then finish the design work.
Over years, the vision of the theater has grown into an ambitious multi-use space with a rooftop deck and art deco accents. Its stage would accommodate live plays, operas and after-school arts programming. Its 300 telescoping seats would collapse to make room for banquets and dinner-theater cabaret.