I was very saddened to hear that the iconic theater The Paramount in Asbury Park has been shut down, that also goes for Convention Hall. The city of Asbury Park issued a notice of default over safety concerns to Madison Marquette, which has developed the historic Asbury Park boardwalk.

Sunrise over Convention Hall in Asbury Park (Bud McCormick)

This couldn’t happen at a worse time. Like most businesses here in New Jersey the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all the entertainment, restaurants and retail stores up and down the Asbury Park boardwalk and neighboring venues. Madison Marquette held the bill for that loss.

With the ease of the pandemic and more people getting out enjoying live music at theatres and entertainment venues, the projected revenue would have softened the blow from a brutal year and a half with little to no revenue coming in.

Asbury Park Fun House (Dino Flammia, Townsquare Media NJ)

I personally thought that the development that Madison Marquette has built was the primary reason that Asbury Park rose up and once again became a thriving entertainment destination.

The Paramount Theatre was open in July 1930 and has been hit with Hurricane Sandy, residuals from many strong tropical storms and the latest remnants of Ida.

The 90-year-old building was deemed unsafe for human occupancy by Madison Marquette after the city of Asbury Park gave them a default regarding safety concerns. Convention Hall is also deemed unsafe but the grand arcade and all the businesses in the arcade are safe and will remain open.

Photo by Chris Eannucci - Townsquare Media

I was looking forward to getting back to the Paramount, as that was the main venue for The Asbury Park Music and Film Festival usually held in the spring, which after an absence from COVID-19 was now taking form for another outstanding event. They originally had a killer lineup of first class acts including Melissa Etheridge.

The festival was moved from last spring to this year then to the fall then eventually cancelled because of the concern of further cancellations due to COVID-19.

via Asbury Park music foundation

The festival, which is a nonprofit revenue provider for the Asbury Park Music Foundation, couldn’t take the risk of having to pay non-refundable down payments to the premium acts in the event of cancellation.

A few of the scheduled acts at the Paramount Theater have moved to the Count Basie theatre in Red Bank.

Getty Images

The historic Stone Pony and smaller Wonder Bar along with other smaller venues in Asbury Park remain open but nothing will compare to the revenue that would be generated by the 1,600-seat Paramount Theater.

There is no official word on when or if the needed repairs will be completed. I hope it’s soon: Asbury Park and New Jersey need that venue. Good luck!

 

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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