Fitchburg State University has begun a multi-million dollar redevelopment of a distressed portion of Main Street with the $350,000 purchase of a defunct theater.
The purchase begins an expansion downtown for the school, with the first phase set to cost $2 million to bring its game design laboratory and entrepreneurship space online, said Matthew Bruun, the director of public relations for the school.
The next phase of the project will include street-level storefronts with a third phase taking form in the restoration of the 28,000-square-foot theater itself, which has been idle for nearly 30 years. Bruun said the school will look to work with outside partners to assist in funding the project that the school feels will have a positive economic impact on the downtown corridor.
"In addition to creating opportunities for learning and cultural enrichment, we are hopeful it will play a significant role in the city's ongoing revitalization efforts," Fitchburg State President Richard Lapidus said in a statement.
The first phase of renovations is expected to be complete by the fall semester, when laboratories for the university's game design program will open. Fitchburg State is the only public institution in the state with a game design program.
Lapidus said the size and location for the theater presents an opportunity for performances not only by the school, but by outside artists and performers as well.