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Peekskill names three finalists for Paramount

Paramount Theater

It might have closed in October, but the Peekskill theater still had its marquee lit on Feb. 5.

The Tarrytown Music Hall is one of three finalists to lease, operate and manage the shuttered Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill.

Peekskill announced the three finalists to take over the 83-year old, 1,024-seat theater that closed last October, facing a $300,000 budget shortfall.

The other two finalists are The Paramount Phoenix Group and Red House Entertainment. The city, through its spokesman Bob Knight, declined to provide any information about the finalists or what they are proposing, and said it would not be soliciting any more proposals. The Paramount Proposal Review Committee, composed of business officials, residents and city officials, wrapped up its information gathering meetings on Jan. 29.

The Tarrytown Music Hall had previously expressed interest in running the theater, saying it could save money by sharing an administrative staff and drive down artist fees by eliminating bidding competition.

While Paramount blamed the recession for its troubles, the Music Hall said it has grown about 20 percent each year.

The Music Hall, an 843-seat concert hall, is owned and operated by The Friends of the Mozartina Musical Arts Conservatory Inc., a nonprofit organization established in 1979. The hall, which brings in over 85,000 people annually, estimates that it generates $1 million a year into the Tarrytown economy.

A work session will be held on Feb. 13 at 7 p.m., with the three proposers making presentations.

Peekskill Councilman Darren Rigger said that naming the three finalists clears a big hurdle in the process to reopen the theater.

“That’s the exciting thing,” Rigger said. “Now we can move forward. Everyone will be able to see who the groups are and what their vision is.”

Rigger said the three proposals are different in design and makeup, and public input would play a role in the city’s decision.

“We want to give people a chance to say what they like and don’t like,” said Rigger. “We’re going to weigh everything and make an assessment. This is a deliberate process. We want to get the theater open but we don’t want to rush into something and be ill-prepared to run it effectively.”

Rigger said he didn’t know if the other two organizations were legitimate entities but said he was interested with what Tarrytown Music Hall would propose.

“Tarrytown is more of a rock ’n’ roll house, while the Paramount’s mission has always been community based. It will be interesting to see what they come out with,” he said.

Paramount Center for the Arts Inc., a nonprofit organization that operated the theater, dissolved in November. The city, which owns the theater, had leased it to the group for $1.

The Paramount has gone through much iteration since it opened in 1930 as a movie theater built by Paramount Pictures. Paramount Pictures sold the building in 1973 and it was acquired by the city in 1977 after a tax default.

In recent years, the theater underwent an extensive $1 million renovation and restoration, including recreating the original 1930s ceiling design.

Patrons who bought tickets for cancelled Paramount events have yet to receive refunds.

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