When the Paradox Theatre, the quaint old theater turned all-ages club on the north end of University Avenue, closed its doors over a year ago, it was quite a blow for Seattle's all-ages music community. Since 1999 the club had hosted hundreds of shows, making itself a mecca for smaller local bands to get their stage bearings, as well as playing host to national acts like Onelinedrawing, the Groovie Ghoulies, and Bright Eyes.

Despite the fact that the Vera Project was finding its feet in its new home, and a handful of other venues around town were doing their best to pick up the slack, the Paradox's absence was apparent.

But late last year, the air began to buzz with whispers about a new Paradox venue. The rumors were confirmed in November when Bubba Jennings, the Paradox's cofounder, announced that construction had begun on a new space in Ballard in the same building as Mars Hill Church (1401 NW Leary Way). Now--after permit delays, months of construction, and oodles of volunteers priming, painting, and installing--the brand-new Paradox is set to open and start right where the old Paradox left off.

"We want this new space to be what the old theater was, but better," says Jennings. "The old space was like a hub: You knew you could go there no matter what was going on. Even though there was the Teen Dance Ordinance, we were still able to do shows. Now there are a lot of places doing shows, which is great, and we want to continue to be a part of that and continue to create a positive environment in the music community."

The new 5,000-square-foot space is gorgeous, with smooth, glazed concrete floors and round paper lanterns hanging from the high ceiling, creating a soft glow over the room. The sound system is the same, with a few upgrades for better quality, and Tooth & Nail Records donated an old lighting rig, so there's no longer a one red light/one blue light scheme. The showroom, which has nearly the same dimensions as the old space, has a 280-person capacity along with central air and heat, which means no more roasting-hot summers and freezing winters (thank goodness). There's plenty of free parking nearby, and it's right on a couple of major bus routes.

In the back of the venue, there is a lounge with tables and chairs and a kitchen with concessions. Jennings also hopes to use that space as an art gallery for young artists; it will also be the perfect intimate setting for informal performances like open mics and small acoustic shows. There are a lot of big plans being tossed around--the possibilities are endless--but for now Jennings is taking things slowly, concentrating on just a few shows and projects at a time.

"The really great thing is that we're in this position where we don't have to worry about losing money like we have in the past," says Jennings. "With the old space we were losing $230 a day just to keep it open. Mars Hill is allowing us to use the space on a 'per event' basis, so we don't have any overhead and we won't be forced to do any shows we don't want to do in order to stay open. It's like having all the perks without any of the stress."

For the record, Mars Hill Church owns the venue and will host church functions in the space, but Jennings says that nothing will change as far as Paradox's programming is concerned. Though they're in the same building, the two are completely separate entities.

"The church does own the building," says Jennings, "but anytime a show says 'Paradox,' the event will be for everyone. There's no bait and switch. One of the things I really want to convey is, whatever the expectations were with the old space, we're trying to maintain the same thing with the new space. At a Paradox show, people can still expect to be treated with respect. No one will be patting you down, degrading you--all the people that run the show do it because they love it. They're not getting paid, they're there to help, and that creates a really positive vibe."

The new Paradox Theatre's grand opening weekend features Aaron Sprinkle, Late Tuesday, and the Carolines (Fri April 16) and Rocky Votolato, Amy Blaschke, and Graham Travis (Sat April 17), 8 pm, $7.