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Van Gogh immersion space could remain as entertainment venue

Van Gogh.jpeg
Jacksonville Daily Record

The auditorium hosting "Beyond Van Gough: The Immersive Experience" could become a long-term events space in Downtown Jacksonville.

A partnership between Corner Lot and JWB Real Estate Capital purchased two notable properties downtown for $8.55 million — the former First Baptist Church of Jacksonville’s main auditorium at 119 W. Beaver St. and the neighboring parking garage at 712 N. Hogan St.

"The parking garage will retain its current use for the foreseeable future," Corner Lot said in a news release Thursday. "The long-term intended use of the auditorium will be to serve as a regional event space for events such as 'Beyond Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience.'"

The traveling art exhibit has drawn acclaim worldwide and sold more than 4 million tickets. It is scheduled Sept. 16 through Nov. 6 at the Immersive Art Space in Jacksonville. Tickets are available at vangoghjacksonville.com.

Corner Lot, an independent, privately-owned real estate development firm in North Florida, hopes community response will spur the producer and its partner, Normal Studio, to bring more entertainment events to the auditorium in the North Core.

“This is more of a passion play and about bringing an amenity into Downtown Jacksonville,” Corner Lot CEO Andy Allen told WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record. “Our goal is not only to exceed their expectations but to be one of their top markets. It will show the art and entertainment world that that space in Jacksonville is legitimate.”

Instead of demolishing the 103,016-square-foot auditorium for redevelopment, the companies saw an opportunity to create an event venue that could hold thousands of guests, the Daily Record reported.

“I think as Jacksonville’s Downtown gets (re)developed, we have to do placemaking and give Downtown residents and visitors places to go,” Allen said.

"Beyond Van Gogh" uses projection technology and an original musical score to immerse visitors within 300 Van Gogh artworks, including "The Starry Night," "Sunflowers" and "Cafe Terrace at Night." The exhibit covers more than 30,000 square feet and and frees the artist's work from its frames, the event's website says.

"Van Gogh's art comes to life by appearing and disappearing, flowing across multiple surfaces and heightening the senses with their immense detail," the site says.

The visit takes about one hour. Few tickets remain in September, but they are available for many days in October and November.

Prices range from $49.99 to $83.99 for VIP tickets, which include priority access and a merchandise package. Tickets for children ages 5 to 15 are $28.99.