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Peekskill native among Paramount theater's bidders
Peekskill native Kurt Heitmann is the founder of Red House Entertainment, a group that's battling Tarrytown Music Hall and The Paramount Phoenix Group to lease, operate and manage the Paramount Center for the Arts, which suspended operations Oct. 4.
The City of Peekskill, which owns the 960-seat Paramount, has invited the three groups to present their proposals at a public Common Council meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall (840 Main St., Peekskill, 914-737-3400, www.cityofpeekskill.com).
In a recent news release issued by Red House Entertainment, Heitmann was quoted as saying his team has more than 100 combined years of experience in entertainment, the audio/video industry, ancillary rights development, merchandising and nonprofit management.
"We are incredibly energized and united in our goal to secure for the Paramount its rightful position as the music and cultural hub of the Hudson Valley," he said. "This theater needs to be operated in a consistent, logical and professional manner by the right group, whose interests are for the development of greater Peekskill."
The news release described Red House Entertainment’s mission as one that would reopen the Paramount as a destination for live music and events in the Hudson Valley, with a complementary but independent nonprofit sector dedicated to cultural enrichment through live performance and education.
“There will be something for everyone with our programming." Heitmann said in the release. “We can’t wait to get started and share our vision with the community."
Attempts to reach Heitmann for follow-up comments Monday morning were not immediately successful. City officials are revealing no additional information about the bidders until Wednesday night's meeting, according to Peekskill city spokesman Bob Knight.
Tarrytown Music Hall's executive director, Björn Olsson, told Newsday Westchester last week that his group was "excited about the prospect of trying to get the Paramount reopened, if that invite should come." Olsson, a board member on the League of Historic American Theaters, added that he'd have faith in applying the Music Hall business model to the Paramount.
"Big 'marquee shows,' mixed with community programming, will prove successful in Peekskill as well and could make a big difference in the ongoing work to revitalize downtown Peekskill and northern Westchester as a whole," Olsson said at the time.
Consisting of elected officials, business leaders and community members, the Paramount Proposal Review Committee has spent weeks reviewing the three finalists behind closed doors. On Feb. 4, the city's seven-member Common Council, which includes Mayor Mary F. Foster, discussed the matter in executive session. The next morning, Peekskill officials announced that they're likely to pick one of the three proposals.
It was a tumultuous 2012 for the Paramount, which opened in 1930 as a movie complex. Less than three weeks after it hosted a Sept. 15 red-carpet gala to try to raise $300,000 for programming, the Paramount ceased operations indefinitely, citing economic difficulties, a dearth of donations and grants, and increased expenses. The Paramount's board of trustees filed plans to dissolve the nonprofit organization in November.
Which group would you want to take over the Paramount Center for the Arts? And when do you think the Paramount will reopen, if at all? Vote in the poll below and let us know what you miss most about the Paramount in the comments section.