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.