Fort Greene’s historic Paramount Theatre to reopen as live music venue next year
Image used by Permission of Long Island University
The gilded Brooklyn Paramount Theatre is being restored to its original glory and will reopen as a world-class entertainment venue next year. Entertainment giant Live Nation, which will revive and operate the nearly 100-year-old theater, revealed plans and new renderings during a community board meeting last month. According to the company, the LIU Brooklyn Paramount Theatre will be able to accommodate 2,600 people. Located at 385 Flatbush Avenue Extension, the theater is scheduled to open in the first or second quarter of 2024, as first reported by Brownstoner.
Image via WikiCommons
The Paramount first opened its doors in 1928 and served as a movie theater and music venue until it was taken over in 1962 by Long Island University, which converted its opulent music hall into a gym and removed its stage.
The university retained the theater’s iconic gilded latticework ceiling and converted the upstairs office into an academic space. During its heyday, the theater hosted legendary performers, including Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Buddy Holly, and many more.
Plans to restore the Paramount to its original grand appearance first surfaced in 2015, when the former operator of Barclay’s Center, Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim, announced a $50 million plan to give the theater a facelift and once again use it as an entertainment venue. However, the plans were discarded after Prokhorov sold the Brooklyn Nets and the arena company.
Renderings courtesy of Live Nation via Brooklyn Community Board 2
During a presentation to Brooklyn Community Board 2’s Health Environment & Social Services Committee in June, representatives from Live Nation released renderings of the new entertainment venue and described their plans in depth. They also gained full approval from the board for the venue’s liquor license, which will serve patrons indoors until 4 a.m.
The renderings show that the theater’s original elaborate detailing in the music hall’s ceiling and walls will be retained, as well as the detailed columns in the lobby. A new box office will be created as well. The theater will predominately host music events, but will also be used for family shows, comedy, sporting events, special events, community events, and private programs for Long Island University.
Renderings courtesy of Live Nation
Live Nation is conducting outreach with local tenant associations at the nearby Whitman and Ingersoll housing projects to provide employment to residents seeking jobs. While largely approved by the committee, Committee Member Jeffrey Ryan took issue with the theater’s lack of minority investors, citing the neighborhood’s large African-American population and the theater’s association with world-renowned Black artists over the years.
“It’s important that Live Nation should be thinking about contributing to the community in a large way. In the United States, Brooklyn has one of the largest Afro-American communities, and it’s important that a percentage of those dollars stay in our community and that the people of the community benefit from having a venue such as the reopening of the Paramount Theatre,” Ryan said.
All security guards will be Live Nation employees, and the security check for show attendees will take place in the entry lobby with guests lining up outside of the building before the doors open. A second set of doors between the entrance lobby and the main lobby will be closed during performances to prevent sound from leaking out into the surrounding area and disturbing the community.
The theater’s famous Wurlitzer organ is being preserved as part of the restoration project. The organ is only of two models in operation, the other being at Radio City Music Hall.