The Elm City is about to become even more musical.
This spring, the College Street Music Hall will open at 238 College Street in New Haven, the site of the former Palace Theatre.
City officials, including Mayor Toni N. Harp and Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson, announced the development Wednesday, Jan. 14, at a press conference held inside the venue, which is currently being refurbished.
“The legacy of delighted audiences on this parcel is now reborn,” Mayor Harp told a crowd of reporters. “On this day, we celebrate the expansion of artful expression in our city.”
The new hall, located directly across the street from the Shubert Theater, will seat between 650-2,000 patrons, with fixed balcony seats and floor-standing capacity, according to Premier Concerts president Keith Mahler, who’ll provide managerial and financial support to the not-for-profit New Haven Center for the Performing Arts, the building's owner. Mahler also promotes concerts at the Palace Theatre in Waterbury, the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport and elsewhere.
“I’m a man of few words and a lot of action," Mahler said. "It's the right venue in the right market at the right time."
As the Roger Sherman Theatre, the current structure was built in 1926, on the site of the former Rialto movie theater, according to a press release. It opened as the Palace Theatre in 1984 and hosted an impressive, eclectic roster of artists, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Bob Dylan, Fleetwood Mac and Sonic Youth. The Palace closed its doors in 2002.
Programming at College Street, according to a statement, will consist of "Americana, Indie Rock, Classic Rock, Adult Contemporary, Alternative Modern Rock, Country and Neo Soul, as well as Comedy."
Mark Nussbaum, of Manic Productions, will join Premier’s team as senior talent buyer, along with Premier VP of Programming & Event Production Anthony Rhodes. College Street, Nussbaum said, offers a step up in size for the types of shows he’s booked across the state, at Toad's Place, Cafe Nine and BAR in New Haven and at the Space in Hamden.
“We’re kind of going to keep continuing what we’ve always been doing,” Nussbaum said. “For up and coming bands, we’ll have them play BAR, Cafe Nine, smaller venues. This is the next platform for bands to play.”
In the past, larger concerts -- the Flaming Lips, Morrissey, Neutral Milk Hotel and others -- took place at venues in Bridgeport, Danbury and Wallingford. “These bands should be playing in New Haven,” he said. “It’s more accessible to the colleges, more culturally active, more accessible to the train.”
Nussbaum also said he doesn’t feel College Street will compete directly with the Toyota Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford, which seats 4,600, according to the venue's website.
“I think [the Oakdale] is a different kind of facility,” Nussbaum said. “If anything, the more acts that come to Connecticut, the better it is for everyone. The more people who come to the state, eating at restaurants, picking up fliers for other events that are happening. I think rather than thinking of it as a competing thing, it’s going to help everyone."