By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 13, 2018 at 10:57 AM

Earlier in the year, a plan emerged to turn the burned-out remains of the former State Theater, 2612-16 W. State St., into a new all-ages performance venue focusing on rap and electronic music, recording studios, retail space for local merchandise and home to FREESPACE, an existing non-profit founded by rappers Webster X and Kane the Rapper, and MPS teacher Vincent Gaa.

The building – the history of which you can read here – has been vacant since the Hoops strip club that most recently occupied closed in 1991. In 2017, it caught fire.

On Monday, the Milwaukee City Plan Commission provided a boost to the plan by supporting a change in the zoning of adjacent lots at 1027-27 N. 26th St. from multi-family residential to local business, which would allow the new use.

Next, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee will take up the idea of selling the theater and that adjacent property to The New State group. That discussion is slated for Thursday.

If RACM supports the sale, both the zoning change and the sale would move to the full council for approval.

The theater, built as a movie theater in 1915, was the site of numerous concerts during its era as a nightclub – in the 1970s-80s, first as the Electric Ballroom and then The Palms – including early performances by the likes of U2, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Huey Lewis & the News, Elvis Costello, Metallica and The Police.

Learn more about The New State here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.