Downtown Springfield Theater Owner Plans $36 Million Renovation

The owner of an historic theater in downtown Springfield has proposed a $36 million plan to renovate the theater block, which officials say will be a critical part of ongoing redevelopments of the city’s downtown.

The New England Farm Worker’s Council bought the Paramount theater for $1.7 million in March of 2011.  The theater, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will get updates to its outer facade, and will have 2300 new seats installed as part of the renovations.

Heriberto Flores is executive director of the New England Farm Worker’s Council. He says the project will provide jobs and economic growth to the city.
 
“We’ve got to start doing projects and putting people to work, they’re looking for jobs, they have the skills, and that’s how you start building that middle class again.”
 
Flores says the project’s financing will include state tax credits and private investments. Kevin Kennedy is Springfield’s Chief Development Officer. He says the project will not compete with a potential casino in downtown Springfield. Instead, he says, the state’s casino law includes provisions that could require that a casino book some of its acts at local non-profit venues like the Paramount or CityStage.
 
“To become part of our community, we expect that they use our performing venues that already exist, thereby cutting down on the necessity to build new ones, thereby cutting down some of their construction costs. So it all just makes sense. It also spreads the casino out from behind fortress walls, and becomes part of the community.”
 
The theater was built in 1929, and was most recently used as a nightclub called the Hippodrome. Flores says he hopes that renovations will begin next spring.