Today, Governor Charlie Baker joined Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Secretary of Housing & Economic Development Jay Ash and local legislators to announce $2.5 million economic development funding to the New England Farm Workers Council for the restoration of the Paramount Theater in downtown Springfield.
In 2011, the New England Farm Workers Council (NEFWC) purchased the decaying Paramount Theater and Massasoit building. NEFWC will soon begin a $41 million renovation on the property, which includes the full restoration of the Paramount Theater as a 1,750 seat performing arts venue. The Massasoit Building will be redeveloped into an 85 room hotel.
“The redevelopment of the Paramount Theater block is the lynchpin of Springfield’s downtown revitalization,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are grateful to Mayor Sarno, Congressman Neal, the state legislative delegation and the New England Farm Workers Council for their leadership in this project, which will create jobs and spur the economy in Western Massachusetts.”
“We are pleased to support the restoration of the Paramount Theater into a first class performance space serving Springfield and its surrounding region,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “This project builds on the significant investments this administration has made in Springfield’s infrastructure, affordable housing and business expansions to continue the thriving economic development happening in the past year.”
“I am pleased to return to Springfield to celebrate the support for the long-awaited rebirth of the Paramount Theater,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. “We understand what this particular project means to the revitalization of Springfield’s downtown, and we are proud to support the shared vision of Mayor Sarno, Herbie Flores and others.”
The Paramount Theater block has been a cornerstone of Springfield since the opening of the Massasoit House Hotel in 1857. Since then, it has hosted Presidents Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson and Jefferson Davis. In 1926, the hotel underwent extensive renovations, including the addition of the Paramount Theater, one of the most ornate theaters in Western Massachusetts. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The Paramount Theater operated for decades, evolving from a live performance venue to a cinema. Eventually the space was redeveloped into the Hippodrome, a nightclub that operated from 1999 to 2011. Following NEFWC’s 2011 purchase, the theater space sat vacant.
The renovated theater and hotel will employ more than 270 Springfield area residents.
“The history of the Paramount Theater is intertwined with the history of the City of Springfield going back to the 1800s,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal. “I am thrilled to see this transformation happen as we continue to work on the revitalization of downtown Springfield, making sure every block from the North End’s Union Station to the South End’s MGM Casino is thriving. Thanks to the Baker Administration for their continued support of this great project, as well as the state legislature. Additionally, it couldn’t be done without the steadfast commitment to the rehabilitation of this treasured building by the New England Farm Worker’s Council.”
“I can’t say enough about Governor Baker and Secretary Ash. They’ve been great partners to me and our City in continuing to build on even more economic development projects that create more jobs,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.
“The Paramount Theatre is a historical landmark here in Springfield,” said Senator James T. Welch. “With the our city’s revitalization efforts in full affect, it is nice to see the Paramount in the spotlight as a cultural hub in our area. This funding not only represents crucial investment into a large scale project, it also represents the state’s commitment to supporting the arts and acting as a catalyst for a cultural resurgence.”
“This is exciting news for the City of Springfield, whose downtown is in the middle of a historic revival. The Paramount Theater was for decades a cultural institution and a mainstay for the latest performances of the era, from vaudeville to movies to local bands and stage productions. I’m thrilled to see this restoration project move forward with state help, including funds secured by the Legislature. The Paramount will add to the growing list of attractions that have always put Springfield on the map,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser, who serves as Senate Chair of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies.
"Thank you to the Governor for believing in Springfield and its economic resurgence. These funds will help revive the Paramount Theater, a historic landmark,” said Representative Carlos Gonzalez. “Springfield’s strength is in its diversity, and investing in a performing arts theater will have a positive impact in the heart of Western Massachusetts. I also want to recognize the role and the collaboration efforts of the Western MA delegation, Mayor and specially the Developer Heriberto Flores who has never wavered on Springfield’s comeback."
“Springfield’s historic Paramount Theater and Massasoit property block are vital pieces of the redevelopment in Western Massachusetts,” said Representative Bud Williams. “Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration for supporting this important project.”
“I am proud to join with Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary Jay Ash, and Mayor Domenic Sarno to announce the state’s funding of Springfield’s Paramount Theatre,” said Representative Michael J. Finn. “This funding demonstrates the state’s commitment to assist in Springfield’s redevelopment efforts, including increased tax revenues and job creation.
The project will break ground in June 2019 with an anticipated completion date of September 2020.
Contact: Colleen Arons (HED) – Colleen.Arons@mass.gov
Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development