By Seth Daniel
When Henok Jimma and his family purchased the old Everett Sporting Goods building in Everett Square, they were well aware of the prime retail and office space in the old, gallant building.
But they had a surprise waiting for them when they went to the top floors.
What greeted them were the bones of a once-elegant function hall facility right in the heart of Everett – with a balcony, a stage, a dance floor, irreplaceable wooden floors and floor to ceiling windows.
It was breathtaking, he said on Tuesday morning, celebrating the grand opening of a full renovation of the facility back into a promising function venue in the heart of the City.
In fact, despite living here all his life and passing the building for many years, he had no idea that such a place existed right above the street.
“We purchased this building about 10 years ago and it was the old Everett Sporting Goods and they used to use it as a gym, but it was in bad shape,” he said. “When we walked in, we were so surprised. It was amazing. When we purchased the building, we had no idea this existed. When we came up and saw it, I said, ‘This is it.’
“Later, when I was renovating the attic, I found a bunch of old photographs from the 1930s of events going on in the venue,” he continued. “It was high-class black suit and black tie events. I told my mom we have to bring that history back. That was the main motivation is bringing back that history and providing a place for people to have special events today.”
With a unique vision in mind for the old space, Jimma’s first trip was to Mayor Carlo DeMaria, who shared the same enthusiasm for a events venue in the heart of Everett Square – not to mention another historic rehabilitation of a building in the heart of an area where big plans are in the works.
“On behalf of all of Everett, it has been a pleasure to work with you and we are so happy you chose to work in your hometown and invest in Everett,” he said at Tuesday’s grand opening.
Building Inspector Jim Soper said there were a lot of questions about the renovation, and the Department was all-too-eager to help Jimma and his family to get the project done correctly.
He needed new HVAC systems, a new fire suppression system, new bathrooms and emergency lighting as well.
“He really had a vision for this and the Mayor shared that vision and we wanted to help them get it done,” said Soper. “No one has to tell me how hard it is to run a small business and to invest this kind of money in a building. If you can get a little help from the lower levels of government like me, you can get a push that you need. If you’re doing it the right way, we’re ready to help you get it done. He wanted a venue for functions, but not a club, and he has a very classy place here now.”
Jimma said they have already had 10 functions at the facility, and all of them were met with great success. He said they check out who is renting the hall to make sure there isn’t trouble or that a third-party isn’t coordinating a negative event.
Meanwhile, he just received his liquor license from the License Commission, and so now he has a full bar to accompany the hall.
“My brother and I used to work at an events planning business in Boston, and there you had to rent the tables in one place, get the flowers in another place, and secure the tablecloths from another place,” he said. “Here, we have it all ready. We bought all the things that are needed for a successful function. Your only job is to come in, have your event and then go home.”
The SkyPlex Venue is located on the third floor of 427A Broadway, and the phone is (617) 669-0517.