The restoration and rehabilitation of the historic Main Street Theater Block received significant support this week with a $475,000 grant from MassDevelopment’s Underutilized Properties Program. Fitchburg State University purchased the theater block in 2016 and the funds, awarded to the Fitchburg State University Supporting Organization, will help reactivate several long-vacant storefronts.
The theater block, located at 689-701 Main St., is considered an anchor property in downtown Fitchburg. The university’s renovations to the block to date include a game design studio and interdisciplinary ideaLab for local entrepreneurs. The game design studio houses the semester-long capstone experience for students enrolled in the program, the first such major in a public university in Massachusetts.
“This grant brings us a step closer to revitalizing a key asset in downtown Fitchburg and continues our commitment to supporting the city’s evolution as an arts and culture hub for the region,” Fitchburg State President Richard S. Lapidus said. “These projects will enhance the quality of life for the public at large and provide valuable opportunities for the university community.”
The funding will help reactivate storefront spaces ranging in size from approximately 500- to 2,200-square-feet to accommodate restaurants/cafes, retail shops, art galleries, and studios.
The $7.5 million awarded statewide in the first round of Underutilized Properties Program funding will fund capital improvements and pre-development work to increase occupancy in challenging properties, creating new opportunities for housing, retail, and further economic development.