Development Proposals For Downtown’s Twin Jewels

Palace Theatre
Palace Theatre Downtown. CT Post photo Ned Gerard.

Shuttered for more than 40 years, solicitations for development proposals will go out soon for the twin gems Downtown, the Poli Palace and Majestic theaters, according to Economic Development Director Tom Gill who recalls lack of interest to revive them during his first helm of the job. He says Downtown North redevelopment projects have spurred interest.

CT Post repprter Brian Lockhart has more on this:

“There was no interest in them at all,” Gill recalled recently. “There were moves to tear them down. I’m glad that never happened.”

Gill now has a second chance to help bring new life to the theaters. After being approached over the last four months by a handful of investors interested in the city-owned sites, Gill and his staff are preparing to issue a formal solicitation.

“We are getting a Request for Proposals together which we hope will draw in more interest,” Gill said. He expected it will be released by early 2017 at the latest.

He said the city will be looking for mixed uses–a hotel, housing, retail–for the buildings and the revival of at least one of the theaters, probably for some type of live performing arts.

Full story here.



  1. The City accepted over $1 million in historic preservation grants to re-do the roof a number of years back. These funds come with strings attached: the interiors of BOTH theaters are considered significant historic features of the building and will have to be preserved.

  2. My family moved to Bridgeport’s North End in 1967. The first time we went downtown it was shocking. The last movie that played was Ann-Margret in the Swinger. Seriously, I would remember that. I am happy they are looking at them again. I frequently go to Waterbury and I will say those theaters have been restored to perfection. It is a shame we couldn’t get Oprah Winfrey to take over the theaters. Stamford was wise to start attracting New York Broadcasting stations and shows. Maybe this will be Ganim’s home run! 🙂 We hope!

    1. Steve, I remember when Charlie Tisdale ran for mayor and almost won, he proposed redoing both theaters back in the early 1980s. Those were two beautiful theaters and hopefully someone will come in and restore them in some form but it won’t happen unless it can make money, which means we must support them but we can’t support something if people aren’t working and making enough to support their families.

  3. Well, I was thinking about a charter school focusing on the arts much like the school in New York the movie “Fame” was based on. There are shows that can be performed there that wouldn’t work with the Arena or too big for the Klein. We are the largest city in Connecticut. We need to see Bridgeport’s future as bright.
    Ron Mackey, I hear what you are saying. But just so you know. Not all people support the arts and even if they had money they wouldn’t support the arts. In New York, I remember all students going to concerts and symphonies. I remember schools competing and getting together to perform for a gala event. If the arts are not instilled in our youth at a young age they are lost. I see it daily in our schools. There are some schools that expose children to culture and the arts while others, well the students are too glued to their phones and selfies to even care about the arts. Maybe that is something the BBOE can promote. If not, perhaps a charter school catering to this would be a perfect tenant and bring students from outside the city. If not a Charter school, a regional magnet school for the performing arts. That would put our city on the map!

  4. Ron Mackey, you do not have to have money to have an appreciation for the arts. You do however, need an education and know opera, symphony and theater exist.

  5. Before people get all excited by this news, where are people going to park? The church sometimes has services, wakes and funerals at night. The little parking lot next to the old Ocean Sea grill takes some overflow for the church but it’s only a few cars.

    Put a major event in one of the theaters and a big service at the church, that’s a lot of cars.

  6. I was at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn this weekend. Very similar venue. Beautiful but costly to repair.

    If the money is raised somehow, I would be concerned about making sure it’s actually spent on the theatre.

    Preferably with oversight by someone outside the city.

  7. Okay, say the money is made available and they fix these things up.

    Where are people going to park?

    How long will it be before the attendance falls off where they cannot operate at a profit? Are they going to close their doors again and be right where they are now?

    You have to ask what made these theaters fail, how they fell into disrepair to what they are now. Ask some people who used to attend, they will tell you. Considering the lack of live entertainment or the interest of it in the city, is it worth the investment?

    Between the Klein and the Webster Bank Arena these venues take care of occasional live entertainment. They have the parking and the arena is close to I-95.

    Who is going to run these theaters? You can’t expect the city to do it considering the city is not going to dump any money into the project.

    They shouldn’t, it will only cause more hurdles to get the job done. It’s been long enough. An outside management company would be the way to go. They would just buy the buildings from the city but they would take care of the upkeep, NOT THE CITY. Harbor Yard is the prime example where they city owns the property but leases out the property. The city has not kept up with the stadium and the property like it should.

    Look at things as they are now to see if it is even worth it.

    Parking, don’t bother if there isn’t an intelligent plan about parking.

    What type of entertainment is going to be there? Are both theaters going to open at the same time?

    What is going to make these venues attractive and for how long? Look what happened to the attendance at Harbor Yard. Their days there are numbered, it’s a matter of how many.

    Although it might be a nice idea to fix the theaters, in the long run the city needs something that will help reduce taxes and create high-wage jobs.

    These two theaters are not the answer. Bring the good jobs, not entertainment.

  8. It’s been a number of decades since these shows were open. Time after time there is grant money to study this or that about the buildings. Were does the money go? Who cashes in on the grant money?
    Tear them down. All that is said on this blog about this building is bullshit.


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