08/08/11 6:00am

©Safe Harbors of the Hudson

Safe Harbors of the Hudson recently published a report about the economic impact the Ritz Theater could have on Newburgh. This report is originally from 7/2008, and apparently is being published now due to a request. Some things have changed since the original report was done, mostly being the Leyland Waterfront project. Nonetheless, the overall effect that the theater will have on the area is still a positive one and, it is a project that you should keep an eye on.

The hope is that the surrounding area around the theater will become the “Ritz-Broadway Cultural District,” a hypothetical 16 block area around the theater. With help from the City and the Empire Zone, the idea is to attract artists to take advantage of the affordable real estate in the area; an artist recruitment package. With the new influx of residents and businesses that will begin to flourish, the hope is that with time property values will increase as well as tax revenues.

This study projects many other favorable results from the completion of the Ritz Theater. Construction will support 154 full time jobs during construction. After 10 years in operation, annual attendance could reach 44,000 people per year which could produce $1.7 million in ticket revenues. It is projected that visitors will spend $1.7 million in off site locations such as shops, parking, and dinning. When fully operational the theater will produce 52 full time positions in the local market. An “artist relocation” marketing campaign, would have the ability to stimulate the area as a cultural district adding galleries, shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and clubs. Area property values could be $27 million higher within a ten year period as compared to the baseline.

Newburgh is full of promised projects that never come through. However, given the track record of Safe Harbors and what they have accomplished thus far, it is pretty fair to say that it is not a question of whether or not the theater will be restored, it is just a question of when it will happen.

In the recent summer newsletter from SHOH the board of directors mentions the renaissance of Pittsfield, MA. A city “blighted by urban decay in need of an economic catalyst.” According to the mayor regarding the August 2006 opening of the Colonial Theater, “The opening…really started the cultural renaissance here in Pittsfield. Dozens of new businesses, restaurants, art venues and even other theaters have been created downtown. . . .” The question then lies, if performance venues can have postive impact on cities close to home like Peekskill, Poughkeepsie and Kingston, why not Newburgh?

For those of you that read this blog from a far and are not familiar with Safe Harbors of the Hudson, they have achieved a total transformation of the former dilapidated, crime ridden, Hotel Newburgh into the Cornerstone Residences. It now houses those in need of affordable housing and artists. They have created the Ann Street Gallery, one of the only visual art venues in the city that has won many mentions and awards. SHOH has also already prepped a brand new box office for the Ritz Theater. The only thing missing is to finally complete the theater.

As with most projects, the end result always has to give in to compromises to make it happen. If you are interested in Newburgh, the Ritz Theater is definitely a project that you should be keeping your eyes on.

07/14/11 12:00pm

©Safe Harbors of the Hudson

Tricia Haggerty Wenz conducted a tour to a group of visitors from the League of Historic American Theaters (of which the Ritz is a member of) on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. The group visited Newburgh among many other stops in the Hudson Valley visiting historic theaters. The tour began in Troy, NY continued down the Hudson River Valley to several stops including The Bardavon in Poughkeepsie, The Ritz Theater in Newburgh and was scheduled to continue to Ulster Performing Arts Center in Kingston, NY.

You can see more photos on flickr.

There is still a lot of work to be done. That wall you see there still has to come down to connect the sitting area of the theater to the stage. Where you see everyone standing will eventually be the stage, and where they are all facing will eventually be the seated audience.

06/20/11 6:30am

The Ritz Theater now has a proper box office now that renovations are complete. The only thing that is missing is some art work for the finishing touches. You can read more details and see more pictures here. It’s great to see this project moving along and we all can’t wait to see the renovations to be done in the actual theater!

05/23/11 9:30am

©Safe Harbors of the Hudson

Work is moving right along in the Ritz Theater Box Office as you can see from the photos. It looks like the box office windows have already been framed out. According to their website, work should be completed by June 9th. That’s less than a month away! Soon, they will also be announcing their line up for the 2011-2012 Tom Humphrey Guitar Series.  It will be wonderful to have a proper box office. Click on the link for more photos and information on the Ritz Theater.

Box Office Windows

03/29/11 10:30am

Back in December when I wrote my 2 year anniversary post, I mentioned some of the work that would be happening at the Ritz Theater in 2011. A new box office was on the list of things to come and it might be completed in as little as 4-6 weeks! The Ritz Theater box office will be one of the storefront spaces between the entrance to the theater and the Cornerstone Residence. Click here for the Ritz Theater’s complete blog posting on the progress.

11/16/10 9:30am

©Safe Harbors of the Hudson

New York City had places like the Copacabana and the Cotton Club. Newburgh had the Green Room. It was the place to go to in Newburgh’s heyday, all the way up to the 1960’s. Located underneath the Ritz Theater, the Green Room was used for weddings, birthdays, parties, conferences-you name it. It is also rumored that a few bigwigs partied there as well.

The Green Room went through all kinds of interior design phases through the decades. When Safe Harbors of the Hudson acquired the Green Room, it got a makeover. Floor boards were lifted that revealed the original green terrazzo floors. Today the Green Room is a fully functioning event space with a capacity for 250 people and a functioning kitchen. Click here for rental information.

One of the exciting things about the Green Room is all of the history everyone shares there. Joyce W Schoenberger mentioned that the Green Room was the “in place to have weddings…the food was from their kitchens and was very good. The music was from a band called Ward Harrison and they were great. We always had our Block N dinners from NFA and many famous sport figures would attend. Stanley Levinson always supported all the Newburgh teams also. It was a great time in the city. I hope it can return.” Joyce also had her own wedding reception there, 50 years ago Sept. 10th, 1960.

Grampy J Wilson remembered, “my parents and my older sister attended many functions there, as I recall. In fact, I believe that my Dad’s NFA high school fraternity held a pre-marriage reception for my Mom and him in that venue back in 1925 when it was the ballroom for what was then named the Hotel Plaza. By the 1940’s, the name had changed, and the hotel was operated by the Levinson family.”

Another exciting thing is that SHOH was able to attain many photos of events in the Green Room. Take a look at the collection. But these are some of my favorites.