New Owners Reveal Ambitious Plans For The Chance in Poughkeepsie
The Chance Theater is closing, but what happens next may completely transform the entire City of Poughkeepsie.
There are no blueprints, no solid plans. But if Chai Developers have their way, the City of Poughkeepsie will be almost unrecognizable in a few years.
The company, led by Berry Kohn, has been purchasing buildings throughout the city. Their most recent acquisition is the legendary Chance Theater, which the company believes is the key to turning around the city.
"Obsessed" With Transforming the City of Poughkeepsie
Jay Blumenfeld, who runs the day-to-day operations, says that Chai Developers is dedicated to revitalizing the City of Poughkeepsie. The company is currently working on a project at 316 Main Street. The single-story building is coming down to make way for a six-story building with five floors of at least 80 apartments and retail space on the ground floor. Blumenfeld envisions a fitness center, a coffee shop and other businesses that contribute to a "work/play environment".
After working on their first project in Highland in 2001, the company has been developing properties throughout the Hudson Valley, most notably in Beacon where the city has seen a renaissance over the past decade.
Once Chai Developers started to familiarize themselves with the City of Poughkeepsie, however, they decided to go all-in. Blumenfeld says that the company is now "obsessed" with the City, selling their remaining properties in Beacon to completely focus on Poughkeepsie's Main Street. He believes that if the city is to have its own renaissance it has to start in the center. The company has purchased several Main Street properties such as the former Hudson Valley Office Furniture building and now The Chance Theater.
What Will Happen to The Chance Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York?
Blumenfeld says that The Chance is a very special building.
Everyone's face lights up when you mention the Chance. There's not a better example of something to revitalize.... It's not just nostalgia, but a hope for a new beginning.
There were rumors that The Chance was going to be knocked down but, according to Blumenfeld, that couldn't be further from the truth.
Rumors that it's going to be knocked down are just rumors. It will stay The Chance.
But what the venue will look like a year from now could be very different.
Plans For the New Chance Theater
There are some lofty plans for The Chance and the surrounding area that include the possibility of creating an entire entertainment district complete with a boutique hotel that shares a name with the legendary theater.
One thing that's certain is that Chai Developers is committed to keeping The Chance an entertainment venue. Although not considered a historic building, there are many historic components inside the theater that the company wants to restore while adding all of the modern features that a performance venue needs to remain successful.
New electric, lighting, mechanical components and the addition of a proper backstage area are all at the top of the list. Increasing capacity to make the theater more profitable is also a priority if it can be done while keeping the building's aesthetic the same. Blumenfeld says that when it's all finished, The Chance will look just like it once did back in its heyday.
When Will The Chance in Poughkeepsie Reopen?
The theater has already announced that it will be closing its doors in October. After that, it may be a while before the venue opens again. Blumenfeld says "It's going to cost a lot of money, but we have lots of experience in restoration and know what we're getting into." The company has its own master carpenters and construction division and say they are up to the task.
As of now, there are no solid plans for the venue. Ideas that include moving the entrance from the alleyway to Main Street will take lots of work and approvals from the City before anything can get started. In the meantime, Blumenfeld says it's possible the venue could be rented out privately for one-off shows until the work begins.
Even after renovations on The Chance are complete, the company will have to seek out the right operator to run the venue. Blumenfeld says that the search will be a "delicate balance" to uncover someone who understands what The Chance is, what it once was and what it could be.
Chai Developers believes that the wait will be worth it, promising "it's gonna be something that will surprise a few people with what we're willing to do there."
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