Old Brooklyn Paramount Theater To Return As Performance Venue

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Brooklyn Paramount, at the northeast corner of Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in downtown Brooklyn, will undergo a 24-month renovation and reopen, according to a news release.

Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner and Onexim Sports and Entertainment will operate the new venue, and business affairs will be handled by Barclays Center chief executive officer Brett Yormark. The organization Paramount Events Center will lead the renovation.

The Brooklyn Paramount was designed by legendary Chicago theater architects Rapp and Rapp, and opened in 1928. The rococo theater was the first in the world designed to show talking movies, and also served as a live performance space for many legends.

The theater is credited with helping introduce jazz to Brooklyn – with performances by legends such as Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis.

Legendary disc jockey Alan Freed also held his rock and roll shows at the Paramount, providing Chuck Berry with his New York stage debut in 1955. Buddy Holly also performed at the theater in 1957.

The venue closed in 1962, and the auditorium was converted into a gymnasium and multi-purpose arena for Long Island University – most recently known as the Arnold and Marie Schwartz Athletic Center. The rest of the building was converted into classrooms, conference rooms and a student canteen.

The gymnasium space was also used by the men’s and women’s LIU Blackbirds basketball teams, the Brooklyn Kings United States Basketball League team, and the Gotham Girls Roller Derby team.

The NBA House event during NBA All-Star Week this past February was also held at the theater.

The Rococo-style ceiling and wall trimmings were kept in place after the conversion. The Wurlitzer theater pipe organ at the venue has also been maintained and played throughout the years since – thanks to the New York Theater Organ Society.

With the revival, 120 annual events will be scheduled with a focus on emerging talent. The events will include music and comedy performances, boxing, and private performances for students, the release said.

“For years, I have admired the beautiful shell that remains of Brooklyn Paramount at LIU and I am excited to restore the iconic venue to its rightful splendor,” Ratner said in the release. “I have had a long association with LIU Brooklyn and am proud to expand that relationship by joining with Onexim Sports and Entertainment to revive the storied Brooklyn Paramount and make it a world-renowned theatre once again.”

The new venue will have a flexible seating configuration with a capacity of up to 3,500, the release said.

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