Local Group Wants To Save Warwick
20-20 Foundation working to re-open theater in new Van Otterloo-owned building on Pleasant Street.
The Marblehead 20-20 Foundation is hoping to re-open the Warwick Theater in the new retail and office building planned for the site of the old Warwick Theater on Pleasant Street.
“We are sponsoring a significant effort to re-open the Warwick Theater in the proposed new building,” Michael McCloskey, chairman of the Marblehead 20-20 Foundation wrote in an email. “We are revising our architectural plans to fit the new building and re-working our existing business models. However, no decisions or submissions have been made at this time."
The Planning Board is scheduled to meet at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, for the first time on the proposed project. The Planning Board must approve the proposed site plan and grant a special permit for construction of the new building. The meeting will be held at Abbot Hall.
“By looking at the architectural drawings available to the public at the Building Inspector’s office, it appears that the façade of the theater and the marquee are going to be rehabilitated and integrated into the new design. For that we are very grateful. Marblehead 20-20 has no further details at this time," McCloskey wrote.
Warwick Place Realty Trust at 18 Sewall Street, which is owned by Marblehead businessman and philanthropist Eijk Van Otterloo, has asked the town Planning Board for permission to demolish the old theater and surrounding buildings and build a new retail and commercial office building in its place.
On Marblehead Patch, commenters have ranged from those who are in support of change downtown to those who hate to see the antiquated building go.
The proposal is to construct a new building at 117-129 Pleasant Street with a total of 38,439 square feet of floor area. The first floor would have space for several retail stores and possibly a theater. And there would be commercial offices on the second and third floors. To accommodate the shoppers, office workers and visitors and apparently theater-goers, there will be room for 89 vehicles in the rear of the building.
Paul Lynch, an attorney who represents Warwick Place Realty, said last week, “The new building will revitalize downtown.”
Van Otterloo acquired the building several years ago and has held on to it, he said. The architect, the Kao Design Group of Somerville, has designed a proposed new building that, he said, “will fit in with the downtown.”
Lynch will also have to ask the Zoning Board of Appeals to grant waivers for some of the building's dimensions. And the town's Design Review Board will review the project.
The new building will have a slightly smaller footprint than the existing buildings with 14,475 square feet in the new building, compared with a combined footprint for the existing strictures of 15,297 square feet.
The Warwick Theater opened in 1919 and was remodeled in 1949 to a design of architect Chester Browne. This family-owned neighborhood, second-run theater operated for more than 80 years before it closed its doors in November of 1999. Its owner, Thomas McNulty, said at the time he could not compete with large chains and multiplexes of theaters.
The Marblehead 20-20 Foundation, a community group, has worked for five years to preserve the theater, McCloskey said. The foundation, according to its web site, “began as a small group of residents concerned about the aesthetics of our beautiful town.” The group “has grown to include many volunteers, financial contributors and sub-committees working on several issues important to keeping our community special.”
The issues the group is working on include street-scape, economic and community development.
“We believe that to succeed in one area depends on being successful in the others, that all three must be nurtured simultaneously to preserve and enhance the many things that make Marblehead unique,” the site says.