Developer eyes downtown Fall River for new entertainment complex

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI)  — A developer wants to bring a new entertainment development to downtown Fall River.

“It won’t just be a theater,” developer Joseph Holdiman, president of Residential Commercial Services Inc., told Eyewitness News on Friday. “It will also be a lounge, a restaurant, cabaret. It will employ about 75 people, all at a living wage.”

Holdiman said he is looking at buildings on South Main Street, though he has not yet purchased a piece of property. He said the mayor and other city officials have been supportive of the plan.

“I’m very excited that there are people discussing the prospect of a live, professional theater company coming to Fall River,” said Councilman Steven Camara, the council’s arts and entertainment liaison.

Holdiman said the multimillion-dollar project is moving along quickly, and if all goes according to plan, they’ll open their inaugural season early next year.

News of the theater proposal surfaced just days after Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick announced its abrupt closure, citing ongoing financial issues. Eyewitness News learned OSTC’s landlord is suing the arts organization for upwards of $860,000 in back rent and other fees. Tax filings from 2014 show the theater was in upwards of $2.2 million in debt at the time.

Holdiman said he’s acquainted with a board member of OSTC who had asked him to help with sponsorship opportunities and future endeavors earlier this year. Despite the timing and his previous connections to the theater, however, Holdiman said he’s not planning on bringing OSTC to the new space in Southeastern Massachusetts.

“We never had any intentions of bringing Ocean State Theater Company to Fall River,” he said.

Holdiman suggested individuals from the Warwick company could come on board in Fall River at a later date. “It’s possible,” he said. “Especially [because] that talent has now become available.”

OSTC’s leaders declined comment. It’s still unclear if ticket holders for the Warwick theater will receive full refunds.