By Seth Daniel
First it was a resort casino.
Then new luxury apartments.
This month it was the first hotel.
Now Everett is prepared to welcome a professional theatrical production facility to the Revere Beach Parkway corridor – further changing the former industrial area on the City’s south side and building more momentum for change on the Parkway.
After an extensive search of the Greater Boston area for a new space, the Huntington Theatre Company Production Center announced it will relocate to 46 Garden St. in Everett, effective July 1, 2017.
The Huntington’s current production facility located at 252-258 Huntington Ave. in Boston, next door to the Boston University Theatre, will become the site of a new building developed by QMG Huntington LLC, which purchased the lot in May 2016.
“The Huntington’s production team has been searching for a new space since last May and we’re delighted to call Everett our new home,” said Huntington Production Manager Todd Williams. “And while this transition will have its challenges, the production team is looking forward to a workspace where an entire stage floor can be built and painted at one time – with no columns in the way! – and with room to paint both full size backdrops and set pieces simultaneously. The new production facility will allow our artisans the space they need to create their best work in the most efficient workspace possible.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria said it was all part of a continued momentum that’s gathering in the direction of Everett.
“I could not be more proud that the Huntington Theatre Company’s production team is moving to Everett,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria. “Soon, we will be part of Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets. I want to personally welcome the Huntington’s artisans to Everett and want to thank Artistic Director Peter DuBois and General Manager Michael Maso for choosing our community for the home of their new production facility.”
General Manager Michael Maso said after a tense negotiation with the new owners and the City of Boston, a great compromise was reached to build a new theatre for Huntington in the new building. However, that left them without their award-winning scene shop – which was next door for 30 years and provided sets, costumes and other amenities for Huntington and also productions at the Calderwood Theatre in the South End.
The challenge was to find a large spot, hopefully with storage, where they could produce their original sets in a place they could afford. He said they began working with a consultant to identify spaces about one year ago. After originally wanting to locate in the City of Boston, they began looking towards Everett.
“The consultant began looking all over Greater Boston,” he said. “There are very few spaces that fit what we needed. We needed a lot of open space and we needed a maintenance space…The best space we found and the best people we found to partner with were the Owens Moving Company family. They have this great warehouse and provided us the space we needed…It’s about a 15 minute ride I the best of times…I think it’s a really exciting time for Everett, with the casino coming. For us, this was about Everett being so convenient to Boston and we found great partners to work with. We’re excited to welcome people to our new home in Everett and we’re excited to have an open house for the community in August.”
One of the keys to partnering with the Owens company was the fact that they were willing to do a long-term lease.
Many of the places in Boston, he said, weren’t willing to do a long-term lease because they wanted to keep options open for residential development in the near future. In Everett, the space on Garden Street was open for a longer period.
Maso said they will occupy about 25,000 sq. ft. on the main floor for their maintenance/scene shop, and will have another 18,000 sq. ft. of valuable storage space on a lower level.
“The scene shop is approximately the same size as the old shop, but the old scene shop was very, very inefficiently organized because it was rigged up one piece at a time over time,” said Maso. “This is an efficient space. The real bonus is storage. We’re going from cramped space with limited storage and having to rent out storage space, to having one large consolidated storage space.”
Maso said they plan to put $5 million in renovations to the facility. The Huntington has worked with Leggat McCall Properties (Boston) to select the Everett location and Dacon (Natick) to design and build out the site. Fit out construction work has begun and production operations will begin there full time in July.
Celebrating its 35th season, the Huntington Theatre Company is Boston’s leading professional theatre and one of the region’s premier cultural assets since its founding in 1982. The theatre will remain on Huntington Avenue in Boston and will be completely renovated. The Huntington has long been an anchor cultural institution of Huntington Avenue, the Avenue of the Arts, and will remain so on a permanent basis with plans to convert the current theatre into a first-rate, modern venue with expanded services to audiences, artists, and the community.