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FRANKLIN, MA-This town is hoping that a proposal to turn an old furniture store into a performing arts theater will play a role in its effort to revitalize its Downtown area.

The Franklin Arts Performing Co., a nonprofit community theater group, would like to transform the 15,000-sf former Franklin Furniture store into an 800-seat theater. The 100-year old building has sat vacant for years and town officials here would like nothing more than to see a vibrant regional theater establish itself here.

“The town is very supportive of this plan,” Daniel Ben-Israel, assistant planner for the town tells GlobeSt.com. “The restoration of the Franklin Furniture store is part of the revitalization of Downtown.” According to Ben-Israel, there has been an ongoing effort to effect a Downtown revitalization here. “We’ve held a number of meetings, we’re fixing up façades and we’re doing street improvements,” he says. The town is also exploring adding a second level of parking at the MBTA station, which would double capacity, to about 400 cars.

Tax dollars are not going to be used to fix the furniture building but Ben-Israel says that the grant administrator in his office is working closely with the school. “They are exploring grant opportunities for the restoration of the building,” he adds.

The 10-year old Franklin Performing Arts Company produces four yearly shows and currently uses borrowed local locations like the auditorium at Horace Mann school and the Dean College theater. The theater group has already signed a purchase-and-sale agreement, and has until March to acquire the building. Consultants are helping the theater company establish a capital campaign to seek grants and gifts to pay for the restoration. Architects are also reportedly exploring the possibility of a mixed-use plan for the building, with room for office or retail tenants.

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