Heriberto Flores (M.Ed. 1991) believes in Springfield

Springfield’s Heriberto “Herbie” Flores, son of Puerto Rican farm workers, is passionate about the city - and he just might be “the right man at the right time” to spearhead the next wave of downtown revival.

Earlier this month, the nonprofit agency Flores leads - the New England Farm Workers Council - purchased the historic former Paramount Theater for $1.725 million with plans to develop the former Main Street movie palace into a multi-cultural center that celebrates the city’s diversity.

The ebullient Flores, who counts the late Peter Pan bus magnate and entrepreneur Peter Picknelly as one of his role models, is full of development ideas for the century-old building. Those ideas include a high-end restaurant with a Spanish flavor, a Starbucks coffee shop that would serve as a daily meeting place for downtown workers and an entertainment venue that would complement Symphony Hall and other downtown arts organizations.

Those who know Flores are confident he’ll achieve his vision for the building.

Russell Omer, executive vice president at Chicopee Savings Bank - the lead lender on the project - is one of those believers. “You’ve got to know Herbie and the way he does business,” Omer said. “He’ll develop it. It’s not going to be risky.”

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