Massachusetts is chipping in $2.5 million to renovate the Paramount Theater and Massasoit building in Springfield.
Governor Charlie Baker announced the state funding on Wednesday during a press event inside the lobby.
A $41 million plan would restore the 1,800-seat theater and develop an 85-room hotel.
During the event, cool air rushed out from inside the cavernous building along with the smell of moldering plaster. The sound of dripping water could be heard toward the back of the theater.
Herbie Flores is CEO of the New England Farm Workers Council, a nonprofit that owns the largely vacant property.
“Some people say this is a dream, and other people say this is a nightmare,” Flores told the small crowd gathered inside. “So depending on which side you are [on]. But I believe that this city is going forward.”
The federal government has pledged a nearly $4 million loan guarantee for the project.
Baker expressed support for Springfield’s downtown development in general.
“We are really looking forward to seeing this project bloom, to see it be a success, and to see it become yet one more great example of what the city of Springfield, looking forward, is all about,” Baker said.
This project has had several starts and stops since the New England Farm Workers Council bought the property in 2011.
A casino proposal fell short, and several redevelopment plans have been delayed.