With all of the success of Phase I and the rehabilitation of the Parish Hall half of the St. Lawrence, there is still the realization that the project is only halfway done. While the rebuilding of the Sanctuary half is estimated at many times the cost of the Parish Hall, it also many times the potential. There are activities for which the 110-seat Parish Hall Theater is just too small - large cast or band performances, productions with large audience draw and, in particular, dance performances that the small size of the Parish Hall stage physically limits.
Surveys of the Greater Portland community, including artistic performance organizations and performers who have used the Parish Hall Theater, indicate that there is a severe need for medium sized venues of 250-500 seats in the Portland area. There is no reason to believe that the Sanctuary Auditorium would be any less affordable, accessible or successful than the Parish Hall Theater - a significant fact for, as Phase I made clear, a clearly defined end-use is absolutely critical to the successful adaptive re-use of an historic building.
St Lawrence Arts (SLA) is proposing to build a 400-plus seat, state-of-the-art auditorium that will replace the original Sanctuary that was demolished in 2008 and renovate the Parish Hall Theater. At present, the proposed project will include creating a contemporary buliding on the site of the former Sanctuary to house the new auditorium, renovations to the existing Parish Hall, and a room at the top, the Promenade Room. The Sanctuary space will be for a diverse offering of visual performances. The Promenade Room will be a multi-function room integrated with the roof that will provide sweeping views of Casco Bay. The facility will have diverse support spaces as well as a lobby to serve both sides of the building.
In 2010 the organization received a 10-year conditional rezoning to proceed with its plan to build a mid-sized auditorium. SLA conducted an exhaustive feasibility study after receiving the conditional rezoning, meeting with community leaders in the development field as well as donors interested in arts related philanthropy to determine that this project and its proposed budget is realistic and feasible. The study concluded that potential funders will be willing to support the project if the focus and majority of the budget is to create a dynamic, sustainable arts center that will support itself while preserving the original 19th century building that does still stand. In 2012 SLA commissioned David Lloyd of Archetype Architects to develope the design for the new building.
SLA is working with both the City of Portland Historic Preservation Board and the Planning Board to review ammendments to the initial conditional rezone, which was based on a proposal to recreate the Sanctuary as it looked in the 19th-century. The new design will be a contemporary style building that relates to the 19th-century Parish Hall. As part of the 2010 conditional rezoning, the City of Portland approved a comprehensive Transportation Demand Managment plan (TDM). The current TDM plan will be reviewed and ammended as necessary with oversight by the City Planning Department.