Peekskill Officials Eye Group for Paramount; Prepare for Negotiations

The Common Council gave acting City Manager Brian Havranek the go-ahead to carry out due diligence with the group it wants to run the Paramount, but did not release the name of the group Tuesday night.

Peekskill officials are moving forward with negotiations with one of three companies bidding to lease and manage the Paramount Center for the Art.

During Tuesday’s Common Council work session, the review committee charged with looking at the proposals for the management of the Paramount, recommended that the Common Council choose Kurt Heitmann's Red House Entertainment group.

Red House Entertainment, along with the Tarrytown Music Hall and the Paramount Phoenix Group, are the  parties bidding to take control of the Paramount, which has been closed since October.  Following the meeting, the council gave acting City Manager Brian Havranek the go-ahead to carry out due diligence with the party it is interested in running the theater.

Although the council did not say which entity they planned to negotiate with, Mayor Mary Foster said she was impressed with Red House Entertainment’s plans for engaging the downtown business community. 

“This is not about who’s the best booking agent in the nation, but who actually understands how to reach out to the best booking agents to bring in the acts that work in our community and that will really bring some brand value to the city,” Foster said. “But from my perspective, Red House is the only one who really got it on how to integrate the Paramount with the business community.”

Jason Angell, director of the Peekskill Business Improvement District and a member of the review  committee, said the committee looked at four things before making its recommendation:

  • The vision offered for operating the Paramount.
  • The financial strength of the operating structure.
  • The strength of each group’s financial plan.
  • The experience of the management team. 

“We thought that Red House had a dynamic, creative vision for operating the Paramount,” Angell said. “We thought that their programming vision differentiated them from other regional competitors that are performing arts centers. We thought that their financial plan and their programming plan exhibited the idea of running the Paramount at full capacity in terms of programming. 

Angell also said the committee felt that Red House Entertainment's vision did the best job of incorporating the local business and art community.

The Paramount Phoenix Group, which includes Arnie Paglia, owner of Division Street Grill in Peekskill;  and Antonio Ciacca, a jazz recording artist and professor at the Juliard School who once served as the director of Jazz at Lincoln Center  was more concentrated on fine arts, according to Angell.

"While the committee believes that a fine arts program should be a part of any group that operates the Paramount, it was a very significant programming focus and we felt that was potentially unsustainable in the local market,” Angell said.

Angell acknowledged Tarrytown’s track record and experience.  But Angell said two questions came up when the committee looked at the Tarrytown proposal.

“Where they putting forward a dynamic vision for programming the Paramount  and did their proposal exhibit that they would operate the Paramount at the same capacity they are operating Tarrytown and really make it operate at full capacity?”  Angell  said.

Angel said the Tarrytown Music Hall projected revenues  of about $435,000 in the first year and $657,000 in its second year running the Paramount.

“That is compared $7 million in revenue the Tarrytown Music Hall did in 2011,” Angel said. “We’re not expecting that the Paramount revenues get up to speed right away, but that did give us some concern that the Paramount would not be operating at that same high level of programming.”

Angell described Red House’s proposal as high tech, with a focus on community arts and programming ideas that would differentiate the Paramount from community arts centers. Angell said the committee was impressed by the fact that Red House wanted to have a consistent programming schedule that could  build niche  audiences.

Programming ideas included themed festivals that would draw people to the city,music performances Friday and Saturday and high definition simulcasts of films and live concert series. 

Red House proposed 80 events in year one and 200 events in year two, Angell said.  Angell said  the Tarrytown Music Hall proposed a lot of morning school show and community programs, with 20 to 30 marquee shows in year one, compared to the 100 marquee shows the Music Hall had in 2011. 

“That was one area of concern, booking at a much lower level for marquee shows at the Paramount,” Angell said.

Paramount Phoenix proposed a programming schedule of 30 films and 30 live shows.

While the Paramount Phoenix Group and Tarrytown Music Hall want to operate the Paramount using a non-profit model, Red House wants to use a hybrid model that uses a for profit operating entity with a non-profit subsidiary. 

“It’s not the only time it’s been done,” Angell said of Red House’s approach.  “I believe the Denver Performing Arts Center uses this hybrid approach very well and the committee saw two real benefit to this approach. The first would be that the for profit approach means that Red House has a vested interest in running the Paramount at full capacity.”

By having the nonprofit subsidiary, Red House would also show its commitment for the fine arts and community events.

Angell said the Tarrytown Music Hall’s proposal raised some concerns because it involves taking the Paramount Theater and absorbing it within its existing board of directors. 

“When we asked in our interviews if they were willing to have a board of directors that was both equal Paramount and equal Tarrytown, to ensure that both theaters got the same level of staffing, investment, priority in programming, they would not commit,” Angell said.

Red House also said that it had seed money of $100,000 ready to invest in the project and are looking at a startup budget of $500,000 to $700,00, Angell said. Red House Holdings, which was founded by Heitmann, also plans to back the endeavor and had $20 million in revenue last year.

The Paramount Phoenix group said it had $150,000 in seed money available and would put a minimum of $250,000 in start up costs. 

Tarrytown said it had no seed funding on hand. 

Red House also proposed a budget of $1.8 million this year, with losses of about $375,000. The group expected to double its revenues in its second year. 

While Red House would pay all of the utilities at the Paramount, Tarrytown is proposing splitting the costs with the city. The Paramount Phoenix is proposing that the city handled the building’s utilities. 

“At the end of the day, we felt the Red House start up approach we felt was the most realistic in terms of getting over the hump in terms of how the Paramount was closed,” Angell said.

Patty Villanova February 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM
What does Jason Angell know about Peekskill, the Paramount or even the BID for that matter? I can't think of anyone less qualified to be a decision maker when it comes to deciding the fate of Downtown Peekskill and its premier iinstitution. The fix was in all along. Just like everything with the Foster Administration. It speaks volumes that Mr. Angell would be the one to carry out the agenda for Queen Mary. How did he manage to parlay a no show job at the BID into such a mover and shaker when there are at least a dozen or so long time residents and business owners who should have been on the search committee?
L. Smith February 20, 2013 at 01:49 PM
This is an interesting story which I am sure many of us will be following going forward. Unfortunately, what stands out stronger than the story itself is the number of typos, misspellings and grammatical errors in the article. It would behoove Patch to employ an editor to review articles before they go live.
Bjorn Olsson February 20, 2013 at 03:11 PM
There are a lot of facts in this article that are incorrect or misunderstood. The Music Hall wanted to show commitment to the project by NOT starting a subsidiary organization. By using our main corporation, we'd be committing our full resources in terms of money, staff and experience rather than insulating our assets in a "sidecar." It also wouldn't be prudent to populate our board with 50% Peekskill representatives for a theater we ultimately would be renting, not owning. Over time, however, this would likely straighten itself out. Our projected revenue is based on projected NET revenue from events, not gross ticket revenue. Our Tarrytown revenue is somewhere north of $3million, not $7mil, not that we'd mind... All that said, from what I have read about Red House's proposals, I can certainly see the allure. If they can deliver what they promise it would certainly be a major boon for Peekskill, so best of luck from all of us at The Music Hall!
B. Smith February 20, 2013 at 04:50 PM
If Red House is chosen, it will be a big mistake. Tarrytown Music Hall is the only one with any experience of running a sucessful theater. Why has the public not been asked for input, why not ask someone with theater experience?
Wendy Kelly February 20, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Very nice note Mr Olsson, I was routing for TMH. Not often do people take the time to write a note with such a nice professional closure.
Robert D February 20, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Well I'm shocked that anyone is really surprised by this decision. After all there was no over-site or accountability in the past and we're headed that way again all be it at the expense of long time members and supporters of the Paramount like myself! (you still owe me $720 in canceled shows i purchased, how is that being resolved!) You allowed the unqualified, incompetent no-nothing Board of the Paramount to run it right into the ground despite two letters from me and countless warnings from many concerened members, that the inevitable was coming.This all started a little over a year after Jon Yanofsky left for Lincoln Center. When i went to the theater to speak directly to management i was meet with employee's who stated "i only work here" from all parties. When i asked for the Board Members names, phone numbers and email addresses so i could get to the bottom of why i didn't even get a response i was practically laughed at and told they could not give me that information.
Robert D February 20, 2013 at 06:00 PM
part 2 The theatre was wofully inept at every aspect of running a musical and cultural theatre, from overbearing security, forcing people to SIT at Rock and Blues shows, imaginge that,sitting at a concert, to the inability to sell beverages in timely fashion, not to mention stopping all beverage service including water at 9-9:15pm! Beverages have a mark-up of %1000! Yes thats right one thousand percent! (I know because i actually did buying for a substantially smaller private club, by buying from D. BERTOLINE & SONS INC from your own Peekskill. ie.. a can of Bud was 56 cents, and the theater was selling it for 6 dollars!) With the reopening of the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, Tarrytown Music Hall (where i grew up) to the wonderful Ridgefield Playhouse, sadly i'm affraid your gonna be out of luck. With all of the major bands playing these facilities, there is little chance they would also play here, and filling the larger theatre would be difficult. The lack of any marketing for the Paramount was disgraceful and showed no comitment at all. So lady's and gentlemen, i beg to differ with you, because its all about who you "book" and how often your having show's that people really want to see! You see, it's business 101 and it's all about the math, do the math people, or you'll be doing this all overagain very shortly!
Babs February 20, 2013 at 06:22 PM
I wish the council would to business owners and citizens of Peekskill for their opinion, I know I have and they all felt TMH had their vote confidence. Just because you have an Emmy does not mean you can run a theatre.
Babs February 20, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Talk to business owners and have their confidence sorry for the typos
leesther brown February 20, 2013 at 06:35 PM
I Would like to know why "Red House" or the" Paramount Phoenix" were even considered?!!..according to the "RFP" they weren't qualified. http://www.cityofpeekskill.com/sites/default/files/request_for_proposal_for_the_lease_and_operation_of_the_paramount_theatre_5h.pdf
Kirsten Berger February 20, 2013 at 07:23 PM
I hope that Red House will continue to show films at the Paramount and also allow local theatre groups to stage performances there, in addition to having marquee events. I'd also like to see children's theater and music there as well.
Robert D February 20, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Leesther is right, according to the RFP, only Music Hall qualifies! Looks like more "back door deals", its Peekskill people, what did you expect. As far as public input from Business's, members, patrons and citizens, they dont want that they think they know best (how did that work out)! This whole process has been "fishy" from the get go. BTW I saw no mention of the fact that the sound system is useless for todays music concerts, major money people in addition to incificent power requirements for todays equipt. None of the members or patrons they owe money too or frequent the theatre were every contacted, thats a fact because i'm both. I find out about whats going on 2 days later when its in the paper. You would think they would seek input from all of us so we can avoid a repeat, but no! Finally if proposers arn't ready to step up and run the theatre as "a Business" then their proposal isn't worth the paper its written on! Wake up Peekskill, Rip Van Winkle finally did! Worst written RFP i've ever seen!
Fred February 20, 2013 at 10:58 PM
I can't wait for us to all be friends again. It will be great hanging outside, listening to music at the Paramount's music festival, or inside at a show. Looking forward to a bright future for the Paramount and our city. We deserve it!
Robert D February 20, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Just watched all the presentations on Peekskill's website and here's the major issue why Music Hall isn't going to get the nod despite being the best suited by far, Scott Seltzer. Unfortunately he is the guy who took over for Jon and failed miserably, he failed to book acts people wanted to continue to see because of his own agenda and was "matter of fact about it". I know because i spoke to him on numerous occasions in his office about this. What he doesn't know is that i know a lot of the major bands managing and booking agents and they were the ones told me. He has burned too many bridges with bands and agents and boasted about it, that they wont go back, and most importantly he is the guy who was skimming front row seats and selling them to friends and friends of friends, i found out only because friends of mine began showing up to sold out shows in the front row (and not members) getting seats from him by paying cash for those seats at a local Tarrytown bar (Set Back inn).Too bad and sorry Bjorn, but truth must be told. i was rooting for you and am a long, long time member and supporter of TMH and a Sleepy Hollow native. That being said the Red House presentation was a joke. Unqualified bullet point nonsense and no specifics. (sort of like Obama's stick, baseless and NO MATHEMATICS)! btw non profit to offset profit, just a back door creative accounting on Red House's Plan and unrealistic. Need i say more people, really City Common Counsel, "rinky dink". No really!
Wendy Kelly February 20, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Robert D that is alot of money to have lost. Many I have heard stopped payment on their credit cards. It is a total mess and I certainly don't think it will ever work. They have no buiness or theater experience booking gigs that I have seen or heard of. I take the train and hear lots many people are still very leary of coming to Peekskill.
Peter Goodson February 21, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Well, I'm totally vindicated. Everything happened exactly as I predicted and for the reasons I stated. I have to give kudos to Bjorn and the TMH for being so honest and professional. TMH is the only ones who can make this work. Once Foster stopped TMH from a seamless transition at the Paramount back in the fall everyone knew the real intent. Foster, Klaxton and co. did everything they could to destroy the Paramount for this very reason. They wanted it to fail so they could control it. Word is they are in court and not doing so well. This story is far from over. How can they go through this farce of a process when they are not yet in control of the equipment and other assets of the present board? Who will end up paying for them? Glad to hear auditors are finally taking a close look at city finances. Stay tuned in the coming months.
Fred republican February 21, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Leesther, Villanova, Putnam man and every other moron that makes comments based in fiction. YOU are the problem, and if you don't like the way Peekskill is going then move. There is no room for your negative sad lifes. All of your retarded comments show that you don't know fact one about the process. I thank the people that actually took real time out of their life's to interview and investigate who would have the best chance in taking the paramount space to the next level. And I commend not taking the safe choice. And all of you that repeatedly use the phrase the fix is on, shame on your ignorance. Where s the grace of community?
leesther brown February 21, 2013 at 05:57 AM
@shakemdown..I got a feeling this buster(fred republican) is that cat that lives up there at St Mary's that hijacked his honey's house....he ain't saying nothing,it wasn't hard to tell what was going down with this whole process....#followtheyellowbrickroad..
leesther brown February 21, 2013 at 06:19 AM
@shakemdown..from your mouth to Gods ears...#choiceschanceschanges2013...
Joe Shmoe February 21, 2013 at 06:30 AM
Ummm...Fred...Villanova and Putnam don't live here.... Leesther...she can stay. We don't always agree, but she often has wonderful points and unlike the other two mentioned...she pays taxes like the rest of us here...
Robin Seggs February 21, 2013 at 03:09 PM
so Ms. Brown .... does this mean you are endorsing Frank FatCat Catalina for mayor? its him or Mary ...thats your choices.
Robert D February 21, 2013 at 03:21 PM
Cant we all just get along! Come on people, personal attacks arn't going to get us anywhere. Lets try to stick to the facts, and if we do get a chance to voice our opinions at a board meeting, we all have to show up with "real" questions based upon our sole interest of having the "old Paramount" back, thats all we want. Anyone who watches all of the presentations on Peekskill's web site would come to one conclusion, TMH is the only "realistic" proposal bar none. Red House's "pie in the sky" plans is just that and unrealistic, period! We would all like great concerts, wonerful plays, art shows, kids programing, community involvement, business improvement and "Partridge in a pear tree" ! Oh yea can i get a new Ferrari too! Problem is someone needs to pay for this stuff. After all, dont we "want to be the best venue in Westchester" Red House was a taylor made presentation with the help of the BID guy, i know, your shocked! As for Peekskill politics, couldn't tell you one thing about it, i live in a neighboring town, didn't even know there was a women Mayor. All i care about is getting our theatre back up and running on solid ground for the future. But i can see right through this one. Look at the submitted RFP's, no one in their right mind would pick Red House, the math doesn't work, the numbers are way off, they are "wishful" at best. All it does is give the City what they wanted and hoped to hear!
bruiser February 21, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I don't know about leesther,but i will back him any day
jo February 21, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Welcome to Peekskill...
NancyV February 22, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Hi Folks - As a fan of the Paramount I attended the Council presentations by the three RFP groups. It was open to the public and a lot of other residents were there too. I also re-watched the presentations on the internet and commented on them as the Council had asked the public to do. I think the Tarrytown presentation was the weakest of the three. It seemed as if they would just continue the old formula that led to problems. When I saw Judy Collins in Tarrytown a few months ago, I enjoyed the show - but the theater itself was still a bit run down and I rarely hear any advertising for their shows. I appreciate Bjorn Olsson's comments but the group seems to have its hands full already. I liked the enthusiasm of the Paramount Phoenix group and their goal of bringing in international performances. They also seemed to have a more "regional" focus than the Paramount had in the past. While I initially had some reservations about the Red House group's for-profit entity, they seem like the best hope for the Paramount's long-term success. They would move it into the 21st Century, including upgrading the equipment to fiber-optics and both buying and selling entertainment on a national and regional level. They seem to really understand the need for much better advertising and promotion - and festivals would be fun too. Whichever group is the final choice, I wish them much success and look forward to "having the lights back on."
Bjorn Olsson February 22, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Hey Nancy, to help us improve: where should we advertise to reach you better? (Bjorn from The MH)
NancyV February 24, 2013 at 06:11 PM
Bjorn - WHUD would be a good place to start. A lot of folks wake up to their morning show, particularly for the traffic and weather. NPR could also offer some sponsorship opportunities or programing tie-ins. On-air interviews and advance print articles could provide additional coverage.
Bjorn Olsson February 24, 2013 at 07:03 PM
Sue Comegys February 26, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Sue C. Knowing The Paramount as I do, The only way to go is TMH


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »