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Northampton officials extend liquor license deadline as Calvin Theater gets new buyer

Calvin Theater in Northampton, Mass.
Nirvani Williams
Calvin Theater in Northampton, Mass.

The Calvin Theater on King Street in Northampton, Massachusetts, could reopen sometime this winter. That's if owner Eric Suher meets a deadline set by the city's license commission for the prospective owners to also purchase the Calvin's liquor license, which he owns.

Suher missed a deadline with the city last week to let the commission know whether he sold five liquor licenses held at venues that are closed, or he would forfeit them.

The city would take them back and put them into a lottery for other businesses, as is the case with Suher's closed Pearl Street Nightclub.

But at a commission meeting Monday, Suher announced he had made a business agreement with two well established concert promoters to reopen and book the Calvin.

The group includes Jim Glancy, a former top official at Live Nation New York and now a partner at The Bowery Presents, and Alex Crothers, who produces the Solid Sound Festival at MASS MoCA, among other events.

"That's the team that we envision running the Calvin for decades to come," Glancy said.

Calvin Theater, Northampton, Massachusetts.
Monte Belmonte
Calvin Theater, Northampton, Massachusetts.

Northampton officials did point out Suher did not follow through on the initial agreement and missed the deadline.

"I mean, I just want to say that it is concerning that we've had months for this and everything has been done at the 11th hour, causing the buyers to have to scramble to get in the paperwork. And they've done their part. So I think deadlines are important," said Commissioner Jennifer Ewers.

The commissioners did expressed excitement about the potential for the Calvin to reopen.

Commissioner Natasha Yakovlev said technically they could cancel the license because Surer did not follow through on the agreed timeline. But she said it's in the best interest of the city to allow the deal to go forward.

"Investment is going to be more critical to Northampton than taking these licenses and just having a lottery — and giving them away," Yakovlev said.

It had been months of negotiating to make the deal happen, Suher told the commission.

"We're happy that after... an extended period of review and back and forth that we have come to the agreement with an excellent operator for the theater and for the full operations and booking and continuing the Calvin as a venue in Northampton," Suher said, and then he asked for additional time to bring the proper paperwork to the city for the liquor license, which the prospective new owners said was critical to the business model.

After a brief discussion, the commission gave Suher a deadline of Dec. 1 to submit the needed paper work or he will lose the license.

Last week Suher announced he sold The Iron Horse Music Hall and its liquor license to The Parlor Room, a nonprofit music venue and school on Masonic Street in Northampton.

Jill Kaufman has been a reporter and host at NEPM since 2005. Before that she spent 10 years at WBUR in Boston, producing "The Connection" with Christopher Lydon and on "Morning Edition" reporting and hosting. She's also hosted NHPR's daily talk show "The Exhange" and was an editor at PRX's "The World."
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