First Coast music lovers will have a new place to hear live music this month. The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall will officially open its doors to the public on Sunday, February 13th for their inaugural event, an evening with Canadian folk-rock act Great Big Sea. After that, an impressive lineup of musicians will be making their way to the brand new stage, including the B-52’s, Travis Tritt and Arturo Sandoval. But the new facility promises to bring more than just good tunes to the community.
Managed by the St. Johns County Cultural Events Division, the PVCH had very different origins than your typical venue- up until 2005 it was New Beginnings Church. The county purchased the property intending to build a community center, but those plans fell through when the economy went south. Instead they turned the sanctuary into the concert hall, which will both serve the community by providing a destination for quality entertainment and drum up some much needed revenue.
Phase one of the renovations began two years ago and included elements like electrical upgrades, acoustic tiles, lighting, a sound system and, of course, converting the first floor’s layout into a space that will fit 450 to 1000 concert-goers on any given night. Additionally, performers needed a stage, dressing rooms and other backstage amenities. Then, there’s the concessions.
“Another thing that we added that the church didn’t [have] was a full liquor bar,” says Daniel Larson, marketing and promotions manager of the PVCH, St. Augustine Amphitheatre and St. Johns County Fairgrounds. “You’ll be able to grab a drink and enjoy the show. There will be beer, wine, concessions and a good deal of things.”
Funding for the overhaul came from various sources including a leftover 2006 bond and impact fees from new developments. A second, privately-funded phase of renovations is in the works and will mean a second level with 400 more seats and a VIP lounge. The Friends of Ponte Vedra Concert Hall organization is working towards making phase two a reality. Memberships, which range from $35 to $500, offer benefits like advance notice of events, discounts on venue merch, advance ticket sales and more.
“It’s going to be beautiful,” Larson says of the facility when all of the renovations are ultimately complete. “We really want to create the type of Radio City Music Hall atmosphere where when you walk in, it’s grandiose. We want that feeling for our patrons.”
Music fans are no doubt pleased by the addition of a new place to hear top-notch acts, but those looking for other forms of entertainment can rejoice as well. The PVCH is a multipurpose venue and organizers intend to bring a variety of events to its stage.
“We’re also looking at more performing arts events,” Larson says. “Opera, ballet, theatre, dance, movie screenings. We’re really open to ideas; things that lend itself to the capacity and the venue… Really, we do concerts all the time [at the other venues SJC manages] and that’s what I love personally, I wouldn’t be in the business if I didn’t love it, but [here] we’re building into a more performing arts realm.”
The Ponte Vedra Concert Hall is located at 1050 A1A North in Ponte Vedra Beach. The box office is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets for events can also be purchased at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. For a complete list of events happening at the venue and for more information on the Friends of Ponte Vedra Concert Hall campaign, visit www.pvconcerthall.com or call 209-0367.
Upcoming Events at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
February 13 Great Big Sea
February 17 Leon Redbone
February 20 The B-52’s
February 24 Travis Tritt- Solo Acoustic
February 25 Arturo Sandoval