Tonawanda News — But Friday’s event was about much more than the marquee — as staff and elected officials repeatedly stressed that the Riv’s ongoing renovations and popularity lend to the region’s growth.
“The restoration and preservation of our history is necessary for our future success,” Gary Rouleau, the theater’s director of development, said Friday. “We now bring in 80,000 to 100,000 people annually, and performers come from all over, stay in our hotels, eat at our restaurants.”
Mayor Rob Ortt said he’s proud of NT’s work to revitalize the downtown corridor, progress that was made in part thanks to the Riv.
“To say this is just a marquee is to say this is just a theater,” he said. “But the Riv was bringing people to Webster Street before it was cool.”
State Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore, also noted that North Tonawanda has benefited from its investment in old, historic buildings, while in contrast, the City of Tonawanda tore down its Star Theatre in the 1970s.
“How lucky that NT didn’t go through that kind of urban renewal,” he said. “The regional assets don’t exist just in downtown Buffalo, they exist here as well.”
Riviera staff also discussed the Riv’s capital campaign to build a 23,000-square-foot structure that will connect to the back of the theater and will house a black box theater, event space, concessions, restrooms, dressing rooms and a rooftop view of the canal.
Although it will likely take years to raise the $6 million necessary for the project, the addition will have a long-lasting effect on the community, officials said Friday.
“It’s an ambitious project, but it’s a doable project,” Rouleau said.
Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.