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BOSTON-Clear Channel Entertainment received a building permit for the restoration of the historic Opera House on Washington St. near the city’s theater district. The 2,600-seat theater has been vacant since 1990. According to Scott Zeiger, president of Clear Channel, which owns the building, the theater will reopen in the summer of 2004 and will host a variety of productions.

Jessica Shumaker, a spokesperson for the city, tells GlobeSt.com that the estimated cost of the project is $31 million. She adds that Suffolk Construction will be heading up the redevelopment. Calls to Clear Channel to confirm the costs were not returned by press time.

City Mayor Thomas M. Menino says that the theater’s redevelopment is part of his administration’s goal to revitalize the Washington St. area. The Opera House project is particularly significant to this plan because it continues what Boston’s press office terms, “the current momentum to bring 24-hour vitality” to Downtown Crossing.

A statement from the mayor’s office emphasizes that “the city is very focused on not only encouraging people to shop and work on Washington Street, but also encouraging people to live in Downtown Crossing. Having people live in the area will ensure that it is safe and vibrant all day and night.”

Seven years ago, Menino listed the Opera House, the Paramount and the Modern theaters on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered List. The move was intended to raise public interest and awareness about preserving the three theaters.

The next year, he created the Boston Historic Theater Charrette with the Boston Preservation Alliance and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The group organized development proposals and implemented strategies to preserve and revitalize Washington St., which it terms “a historic core of the city.”

The Opera House was designed by Thomas White Lamb and opened in 1928 as the B.F. Keith Memorial Theatre. In 1978, the Opera Company of Boston purchased and renamed the theater; a year later, the Opera House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Other theaters set on Washington Street are the Modern, built in 1913, and the Paramount, built in 1932, which along with the Opera House form a central “Washington Street Theater District.”

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