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Forum Update On Downtown Theater Development

April 16th, 2018 · 13 Comments · Analysis and Comment, Development and Zoning, News and Events

artist rendering Poli

Artist rendering of Downtown theater proposal.

The city’s selected developer to revitalize the long-shuttered Downtown theaters will host a forum on Tuesday to explain the development process and timeline that includes restoration of the Majestic and a major housing component. It will take place 3 p.m. at Margaret Morton Government Center, 999 Broad Street. Contractors and suppliers are invited. The forum will be presented by the city’s Small & Minority Business Office.

Last June Craig Livingston, managing partner of the Manhattan-based commercial real estate firm Exact Capital Group joined city officials to announce a $400 million redevelopment of the shuttered and nostalgic Poli and Majestic theaters Downtown that includes a performing arts center, entertainment and sports venue, preservation of the Savoy Hotel into 200 rooms, two 18-floor towers across the street, with retail and underground parking, that would become the tallest buildings in the central business district, and another 10 floors of housing units on Housatonic Avenue.

Livingston has projected a groundbreaking late this year for the first-phase theater restoration. The project has its skeptics. It’s anticipated that Livingston will provide an update on the financing of the project.

Exact Capital’s portfolio includes the ongoing $178 million redevelopment of Harlem’s Victoria Theater, that’s experienced its share of starts and stops. See details here.

Majestic external

The theaters back in the day.

Sylvester Poli, a renowned sculptor in New York, launched Bridgeport as a respected theatrical community circa 1920 via construction of his architectural treasures that combined for roughly 6,000 seats. The biggest Broadway stars of the era such as Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson performed in Bridgeport. The 100-room Savoy Hotel, whose sign is still a feature on the vacant building, was part of the complex.

Shuttered for more than 40 years, a solicitation for development proposals was issued in January 2017. Economic Development Director Tom Gill said advancement of Downtown North redevelopment projects spurred interest in the twin gems. For old-time Bridgeport residents they represent an era when the city was a magnet for Broadway’s theater and pageantry.

Other details, according to the developer, include:
– The Majestic Theater will be renovated and reopen with 2,200 seats for use by local and regional performing arts groups that will be deeded by the City of Bridgeport

– Rehabilitate three first floor retail spaces for goods and services complementary to the renovated Savoy Hotel

– Renovate and restore the former Poli Palace entrance to original historic condition that will serve as an entrance to the renovated Savoy Hotel

– Use a portion of the Poli Palace Theater as gym or healthy lifestyle venue

– Use a portion of the Poli Palace as a ballroom or entertainment venue for hosting banquets, weddings, graduations, galas, conferences, etc.

– Rehabilitate Savoy Hotel to modern hotel standards

– Construct a new residential tower ranging from studios to three-bedroom apartments with private terraces.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Mojo

    *** I’am all for progress if it helps move a city towards better economic times however this is a rather high price tag for more entertainment & another hotel in Bpt, no? Seems there’s not enough business for the Holiday Inn downtown! Last time we had another hotel in Bpt. it folded due to lack of business. And now the city’s got the Webster Bank Arena, Cabarrett on Golden Hill, Klein Memorial, Mcleavy Green Theater, Bejiou Theater & soon the Amipu-theater at the ex Bluefish ball-park. All these venues that are open now have trouble from time to time, getting & keeping a continuous level of entertainment coming to Bpt. It sounds like another political feather in the hat for the POLs pushing it & a money maker for those involved in the drawing of plans and construction of the buildings, etc… Like the Pro-Bass at steel-point and many other ex-businesses in Bpt. chances are they’ll fold in 10yrs. after the tax breaks,then Bpt. tax-payers once again will be left holding the bag with the next fool-proof plans for making Bpt. down-town an Urban oasis! *** BEST OF LUCK, MAYBE THEY’LL GET A CASINO, NO? ***

  • Bob Halstead

    This event has not been publicized save for this, on Lennies Blog, the day before.

    Not good form

  • Ron Mackey

    PLEASE!!! Who’s drinking or smoking what?

  • Bob Halstead

    Who remembers Dematrakus who had such big plans for the old train station?…then it burned down or somebody burned it down. I’m sure Lenny remembers when he was with the Telegram. More Bridgeport nostalgia. Mary Knight took great photos of the fire. Please post them for our entertainment.

  • Frank Gyure

    The 24 hour notice for this “meeting/presentation” gives it all away. The entire project can not be supported by current demographic information.

    • Frank Gyure

      A 2200 seat-theatre is completely unreal. The Royal Opera House in London,La Scala in Italy have smaller seating. The concert hall for the New York Philharmonic is planning a major renovation and they are planning to REDUCE hall capacity.

  • Harvey Weintraub

    This is nothing more than Joe wanting to get the press to cover this again.Like everything Joe does,it’s for his own selfish reasons.Guarantee this developer will just talk about the same things Joe made him say last year,right after Joe threw his hat in to the governors race.Remember when this was first announced last year,Joe was pushing to get this started before this November.With this press conference Joe will be able to start touting this “develpoment” all summer on the campaign trail,even though he knows it won’t happen.What the hell do we need another theater and hotel for??..The Holiday Inn has an average 25% occupancy rate,who exactly is coming to Bpt to stay overnight?

  • Jimfox

    This project has been Cloaked in Secrecy from the start!
    Now Ganim will make up some bullshit Time Table, to coincide with his run for office.
    Have the developer post a surety bond!

    SCAM!

  • Mojo

    *** Just follow the money; political donations along with the atta-boy publicity. Planners, construction company’s, and all the other interested party’s that will stand to make some money over a 10yr. period. Then when the tax credit expires & the thrill is gone, along with the lack of in-coming monies to pay the taxes & bills, its chapter-11 or whats known in the tri-state area as the “Trump short-term bail-out”! ***

  • Tom White

    Some skeptical comments from people who have seen these announcements before. No doubt this ‘development project’ will figure prominently in Ganim’s bid for nomination.
    Sadly, these are just more renderings for the ‘museum of wishful thinking’.

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