Wollaston Theatre: A New Decade
Very sad news. See most recent post about the Wollaston Theatre demolition. 💣
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Just to catch you up to speed, I've written three previous posts about the Wollaston Theatre.
Wollaston Theatre - A Local Treasure (March 11, 2007)
Wollaston Theatre Update (November 21, 2008)
Take 3 - Wollaston Theatre News (January 29, 2009)
Looking back, I've updated once a year for the past three years. So I guess this is my 2010 Wollaston Theatre update and the first for the new decade.
* * * * *Today I spoke with Jeff Levien, Senior Director of Develoment with Street-Works. Our conversation is summarized below.
The date of ownership transfer to Street-Works was in June 2009, so it's been under a year that they've owned the property. Street-Works is also working on the development of the New Quincy Center.
When they first took ownership of Wollaston Theatre, some of their efforts went towards the short-term maintenance of the structure in order to secure it from fire and crime. Safety was a big issue and they had to make repairs to the roof.
Right now, they are still in the planning and investigation stages of how to renovate the property, the costs, and how it will be used. They are taking the time needed to do everything correctly. Levien says, they "have one time to get it right. The economy is not helping. It distracts people."
Levien says that they need fundraising and the Mayor has done some, but it's up in the air right now. He does see a grassroots effort in terms of contributions, whether money or time. They have to determine the cost to bring the theatre from its present state to one that can be used. Contributions, grants, money that needs a return on investment and money without the need for ROI will play a part.
He hears from people who want to volunteer and they definitely welcome the enthusiasm and the help. Right now they are still finding out what all the needs are. The are still in the pre-development and viability stage.
Some additional issues and questions are:
What will the space be used for? It might not work for a true commercial movie theatre. Can it work for live performances? Will there be enough parking?
I mentioned that the Wollaston T lot is right there and can be used for after hours. But then he said it depends on the use. I can see the concern. There isn't much parking in that area without use of the T's lot.
Who will operate it on an annual basis for the community and have it be sustainable over time? It's not just a rehab of a building with a clear use.
Levien said that in late summer, they will have a better idea of specifics and when the time is right, they will reach out to the community.
I'm looking forward to learning more. After speaking with Jeff, I felt very hopeful about the renovation of Wollaston Theatre. He was very personable and took a decent amount of time to speak with me. Time is money, so I appreciate it!
For those of us who live in the area and have wondered about a renovation, it's been years that we've had questions. In all fairness, Street-Works is still relatively new to the situation, so they do need some time. And I'm reminded of one of my favorite 80's songs by The SOS Band: Take Your Time Do It Right.
*Updated 3/24/10* Here's a great set of photos of Wollaston Theatre on flickr.
*Updated 11/4/10* Unfortunately, according to a Boston.com article that I just read, it looks like Street-Works no longer plans to purchase the theatre. *sigh* However, all is not lost and apparently, Quincy City Councilor Doug Gutro is still trying to save it. The saga continues...
*Updated 12/22/10* Still not sure what will happen with Wollaston Theatre, but the plan to modernize downtown Quincy is moving forward.
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