After sitting dormant for years, Forest Theater in South Dallas is moving forward with a multi-million dollar revitalization project.

Built in 1949 by Karl Hoblitzelle, Forest Theater was a state-of-the-art facility in its heyday, with a capacity for 1,400 people to enjoy a movie in its single-screen auditorium. Following the construction of U.S. 175 in the 1950s, the South Dallas neighborhood where the complex resides saw its demographics shift to predominantly African American. The Theater similarly shifted, becoming a home for black artists and musicians, hosting legends like B.B. King, Prince, and Tina Turner.

Over time, the location underwent numerous transitions, serving as a place of worship, event venue, and nightclub between bouts of closures. In 2017, a philanthropic couple purchased and gifted the theater to current owners Forest Forward, a non-profit organization that partners with the community to drive equitable development, reported CultureMap Dallas.

According to the organization’s website, Forest Forward aims “to bring healthy neighborhood revitalization while preserving the history and character of the neighborhood,” using the Forest Theater project “as a catalyst to spur equitable development.”

After standing empty for the past 15 years, the organization is beginning an over $75 million renovation project on the historic site, per CultureMap Dallas.

“This week we broke ground on the restoration of the historic Forest Theater! When finished, this theater will bring more arts and job opportunities to South Dallas. Thank you @ForestForward for your incredible work!” Mayor Eric Johnson posted on X on April 6.

The first phase of the renovation will entail enlarging the existing building to 66,000 square feet, according to CultureMap Dallas. The building will house a recording studio, cafe and restaurant, a performance hall with a capacity for over 1,000 guests, a 200-seat multi-use studio theater, and a 13,000-square-foot arts education hub, per CultureMap Dallas.

“The Forest Theater harnesses the power of art and culture to align strategic partnerships to create equitable opportunities, generate revenue, promote entrepreneurship, and establish sustainable best practice,” reads the organization’s website.