Jazz club, fine art museum called a ‘game changer’ – News – seacoastonline.com – Google Alerts

PORTSMOUTH – What its owners have deemed as “unlike anything on this side of New York City,” the rebirth of the historic YMCA building on Congress Street will take the form of a jazz and blues dinner club on its top three floors, and the “Museum of New Art Portsmouth” on its first floor.

Brothers Peter and Michael Labrie called their multi-million dollar undertaking a “game changer” for the city; one that will make it a national destination, where people will flock to the cultural center. The building, originally constructed in 1905, will now go by the name “Elle’s,” in honor of their mother, Ellen Labrie.

The highly-anticipated plans for the building were revealed during a special reception ahead of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth’s annual dinner Thursday. Most recently, the building was home to the former Sake Restaurant, and has since remained a undeniable hole in the downtown landscape at 135 Congress St.

The jazz club will bring in world-renowned names such as Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana and Gary Clark Jr., Michael Labrie said, and construction will be completed by spring 2021.

“This will be one of the top clubs in the country,” Michael Labrie said. “A cultural center of the city.” He called it an “ultimate sensory experience” with a 1930s club feel.

Peter Labrie said, “I don’t think people understand the level of music we’re going to bring.”

Chamber President Valerie Rochon called the building “one of the most amazing spaces in downtown Portsmouth.”

“I am in awe,” she said, as she looked around the space Thursday, addressing 100 VIP guests. Rochon said the building’s restoration is a labor of love that demonstrates the Labrie family’s commitment to Portsmouth.

The building was one of the first ever YMCAs in the country, Michael Labrie said, looking to service a “vibrant, informed and culturally-dynamic community.” The project, he noted, seeks to return it to that purpose.

The top three floors of the building…

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