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Long Branch's Paramount Theater To Be Demolished This Week

LONG BRANCH: One of the last remnants of Broadway Arts Center (BAC) will be coming down this week.

Long Branch Business Administrator Kevin Hayes said the Paramount Theater will be torn down on either Thursday, June 8 or Friday, June 9.

The structure is one of the oldest in the area and was built as the Broadway Theatre in 1912. The 1,772 seat Broadway began showing plays and vaudeville performances before transitioning over to film. It was remodeled in 1930 by architect Leon Cubberley into an Atmospheric style theatre, and renamed Paramount Theatre.

The theater closed on September 14, 1959 due to declining ticket sales. The Paramount was sold and used as a warehouse for Siperstein's Paint until plans were made to renovate the building in 2005. Those plans never came to fruition, and the theater continued to sit vacant.

The BAC encompasses the area east of Liberty Street to Memorial Avenue and from Union Avenue south to Belmont Avenue, with Broadway running through the zone. Diversified Realty Advisors, operating as Long Branch Partners, LLC acquired this stretch of Broadway in June, 2014 and had preliminary plans to build approximately 800 units of different types of multifamily housing and 80,000 square feet of retail space for the area. The group also paid over $400,000 in back taxes for the properties.

The group now has ownership over 51 properties, but in 2015, liens were placed on the properties after Long Branch Partners did not pay approximately $350,000 in 2014 taxes on the properties. A September tax sale resulted in the sale of 18 of the liens to the third parties and the city placed liens on the remaining 33 properties. However, the group has now paid all the back taxes, which total just over $1 million.

In late March, the developers began demolishing several buildings including the original Siperstein Paint Store, Stars and Bars, an old laundromat and the cabinet making business on the corner of Second Avenue and Broadway.

Now, only the Paramount Theater, the building in front of the radio tower, the meat market and Cafe Lapa remain standing in the BAC. Several of the empty lots will be used for overflow beach parking this summer.

Long Branch Partners are expected to present their new plans to the council and the public in the coming months as the city works toward a final redevelopment agreement with the group.


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