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After years of fundraisers without many results, Ritz Theater eyes city, state money

Posted: 10:16 PM, Apr 09, 2019
Updated: 2019-04-10 01:54:09-04

The organization that took ownership of Corpus Christi’s historic Ritz Theatre in 2011 is looking far and wide for funds to complete an estimated $12 million restoration project.

“The Ritz Theatre is one of the last remaining historic buildings that Corpus Christi has, and it’s one of the most viable,” Founder and Board President for Positive Action Toward Cultural Heritage, or PATCH, Monica Sawyer said.

PATCH got word in September that the city would match $100,000 in funding if the organization could raise that amount or more by July 1. It’s money Sawyer says would go towards a new roof which would finally allow for real progress inside the theatre.

“This year is the first time to have monetary, or the option to get monetary, support from the city, and we’re really excited about that,” Sawyer said.

Another possible revenue stream, in addition to private donations, is state funding. Sawyer says PATCH spoke before the Budget and Appropriations Committees in both the Texas House and the Texas Senate during the last Legislative Session two years ago, and she would like to do the same before the current session ends at the end of May. She says the benefits to restoring The Ritz go beyond nostalgia.

“We know that it can generate economic development,” Sawyer said. “We know that it can bring jobs, and it can really bring a lot of visibility to the city.”

Longtime theatre patron Kevin Schuster likes the idea of a restored Ritz reopening some day.

“I think it’s part of the heritage of downtown,” Schuster said. “It’s part of the heritage of Corpus Christi. A lot of people have memories from being here and would like to see it redone. We need this type of venue downtown.”

Even people who’ve only lived in Corpus Christi for a short time are in support of Ritz restorations.

“I’m excited about it,” said A.J. Hansborough who’s lived in the city for just over a year. “I mean, anything that brings more people downtown is OK in my book.”