City council supports Concord Theatre revamp

  • Manchester-based architect Dennis Mires created this rendering, which envisions one concept for what the old Concord Theatre could look like if it's overhauled. The historic theater is located at 18 S. Main St., between Endicott Furniture and OutFITters Thrift Store. Joe Gleason—Courtesy of Dennis Mires PA

  • The Concord Theatre's marquee is shown in an undated photograph. —Courtesy

  • The projection room of the old Concord Theatre on South Main Street. Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • The box office of the Concord Theatre sits in the entry way of the main entrance. Geoff Forester—Monitor staff

  • The Concord Theater on Main Street in its current state. Geoff Forester / Monitor file

Monitor staff
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The multimillion-dollar plan to revamp the old Concord Theatre into a versatile midsized event venue will require a patchwork of grants and tax credits to be feasible.

One of those funding sources could be the state’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, better known as LCHIP. When developer Steve Duprey inquired about the nonprofit’s grants, he was asked whether the city council had weighed in on the project.

The answer then was no, but now it’s yes.

Concord’s city councilors unanimously agreed Monday to write a letter of support in favor of the joint endeavor of the city’s most prominent developer and its largest theater, the Capitol Center for the Arts.

The Concord Theatre, now shuttered for the past 23 years, was for decades a cinema staple on South Main Street seating 499 people. The plan in the works would reopen its deceptively large interior and outfit it with retractable seating that could sit 300 people or stand 450, mostly for concerts that don’t fit well into the Cap Center’s main theater.

“There is not another operating theater of that size in Concord,” said Nicki Clarke, the Cap Center’s executive director. “It allows us as the Capitol Center to book things that just make no sense to book in a 1,300-seat theater.”

She added: “We really want this to be the place for young people to go for those concerts where they do not want to sit down.”

The city councilors offered their praise for the idea and thanks to the people tasked with carrying it out.

Councilor Brent Todd said he’s reminded of the theater and laments its loss every time he walks by.

“It’s kind of a sad spot, I think, for a lot of people,” he said. “It’s very fortunate it wasn’t torn down.”

Clarke noted that the Concord Theatre would serve as a better location for some of the programming it already offers, such as screenings of the Metropolitan Opera, which would also free up dates in the main theater and “allows us to be opportunistic in booking the headliner names that we can get in.”

That’s in addition to the new opportunities it would create, such as multi-day runs of theater pieces and a concert venue for up-and-coming artists that wouldn’t sell out the Cap Center.

“I’m extremely excited about the possibility of having a venue that actually will be able to house the types of entertainment that young people really are interested in,” said Councilor Byron Champlin.

Duprey said he’s seeking funding from a number of sources for the estimated $5.5 million project. It didn’t win backing from the Community Development Finance Authority this year, he said, “because they deemed it a little premature.”

“I think they missed that call, but we’ll give them another opportunity next year,” he said.

He added: “We hope to get a New Markets Tax Credits. We hope to get a CDFA grant. We’re looking at other grants. The Capitol Center is doing extensive fundraising, and LCHIP will be part of it.”

Duprey said he’s hoping those grants will come through by next summer, in time to start roughly a year of construction that fall.

As he pursues the next round of grants, he’ll be able to take the council’s support with him.

“The idea of creating this type of venue is a niche that’s really missing,” Mayor Jim Bouley said.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at