The former Asylum rock club on Center Street will reopen in April as Aura — and it will be double the size of the old space, owners revealed Friday during a sneak peek walk-through tour.
Nearing completion of a $9.1 million expansion, the new five-room,1,000-person capacity venue will also serve as an event space for weddings and small-scale conventions. New high-end touches like green rooms with private bathrooms and showers will help to attract bigger acts owners says.
Dwight Yoakam plays here May 7 and glam rocker Bret Michaels takes the stage the next day. Jimmy Eat World barrels in May 11 and blues great Buddy Guy croons Aug. 19 followed by country star Wynonna Judd on Sept. 30.
“This is now a multi-genre club,” said Live Nation’s Bob Duteau, who is booking musical acts along with comedy.
Designed by WBRC, the firm that renovated the Civic Center into the Cross Insurance Arena, the venue is now “sleek and sophisticated, upscale and fun,” says architect Jocelyn Boothe.
“We’ve been here 20 years. We needed to renovate the space,” said co-owner Laurie Willey.
“The old space was set up like a bowling alley,” added co-owner Krista Newman.
The dark, imposing vibe is long gone. In its place is a modern club augmented with an up-to-date sound system and sexy lighting. The stage — with a lift for easier equipment loading — is now in a larger space with soaring ceilings and three levels to take in a show.
“It’s upscale and contemporary and the line of sight is amazing,” said Newman.
The graffiti mural wall off Free Street was destroyed to make way for the improved stage, but owners have hired the same artist to create a new one.
Architects WBRC added a new story, which increases the club’s footprint considerably.
When it opens in mid-April, there will be seating for 700, five rooms and a bar on each level facing the stage.
It’s located diagonally across from Cross Insurance Arena, a few blocks from Port City Music Hall and the State Theatre, but the owners say Aura’s size and amenities will fill a niche not yet met.
“The size allows us to books acts we couldn’t before,” said Newman.
Exterior updates include large windows overlooking Free Street that will be “a lens into the scene” said engineer Robert Frank. “This was a challenge. These women had a vision.”
Local acts will still be featured here. Asylum’s popular Goth Night will be held in the former pool room, which now resembles an intimate nightclub.
More acts will be announced soon at auramaine.com.