Construction is expected to begin next month to restore a landmark building in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts.
Work is set to begin on a long-planned project to restore the Paramount Theater into a 1,750-seat performing arts venue and redevelop the adjoining Massasoit Building into an 85-room hotel.
" The objective is to clear everything out and make the downtown from the South End to the North End one beautiful place," said Herbie Flores, the CEO of the New England Farm Workers Council, which bought the block of buildings in 2011.
A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for July 1st.
Located on North Main Street, the theater is a short walk from Union Station.
" The people coming on the trains will be coming down here and going to the casino. We'll do the hotel and have this place for entertainment," explained Flores last year, adding " The vision is there."
The money for the project, estimated to cost $41 million, comes from public and private sources.
In 2017, the city of Springfield was awarded a $3.6 million loan guarantee for the project from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Last year, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced the state would put $2.5 million into the project.
Historic tax credits are also a big part of financing the project.
The Paramount was founded as a vaudeville theater in 1926. It later was used as a movie theater and a venue for live rock concerts. Following a renovation in 1999 that saw the main floor seats removed, the Paramount became the Hippodrome – a popular nightclub that operated for a decade.
Leaks in the roof after the nightclub closed for good caused extensive water damage.
The Massasoit Building dates to 1857.
Mayor Domenic Sarno said the project is very important both in terms of economic development and historic preservation.
" It is another marquee project," said Sarno.
It’s estimated 250 people will be employed at the completed performing arts venue and the hotel.
The project is expected to take two years to finish.