Long-delayed Jefferson Performing Arts Center to open with June 19 open house _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The Jefferson Performing Arts Center,has been under construction for 7 years. Contractor Joe Calderera raises the curtain on stage.

Jefferson Parish will host an open house June 19 to allow the public to tour the new Jefferson Performing Arts Center.

The arts center, located between LaSalle Park and Zephyr Field at 6400 Airline Highway in Metairie, took more than a decade and a half to build and was plagued by a series of issues that more than doubled its original price tag. The construction alone ended up costing the state and parish $54.5 million.

Officials announced substantial completion was close in October, but as months passed and winter turned to spring, the center still hadn’t opened.

The 1,050-seat theater features a state-of-the-art acoustic design and an 89-foot-wide stage with an orchestra lift that can be raised and lowered by a motor-driven system.

The June 19 open house will feature free guided tours every half hour from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., with an official ribbon-cutting at 2:30 p.m..

Members of the Jefferson Performing Arts Society and officials of the building’s operator and manager, SMG, will be on hand to welcome visitors.

On June 20, the theater will present a “gala opening” to showcase the region’s theatrical talent, though details were not available this week. A parish news release said additional information about ticket sales, pricing and special guests “will be announced shortly.”

The Jefferson Parish Council in January voted to name the theater inside the new center after former state Sen. Ken Hollis. Hollis secured millions of dollars in funding for the theater from the Legislature before his death from cancer at age 68 in 2010.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.