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Rialto Theatre’s hotel project called off, renovations still planned

TUCSON – Last year, News 4 Tucson reported on a $88 million high-rise hotel project that was set to go up right behind the Rialto Theatre downtown.

READ MORE: Downtown Tucson is growing with new development

Part of the project was going to include renovating the theatre.

About a month ago, the project was called off. News 4 Tucson spoke with the Rialto Theatre to see where this leaves the renovations.

Rialto employees say they were disappointed because through the hotel project, developers would be paying for a majority of the renovations.

Before the project was scrapped, the Rialto was going to move to the Corbett House for about two years during construction.

“It was disappointing to know that it wasn’t going to happen, but at the same time it means that we don’t have to move and that we just continue where we left off before the hotel project came along, which is to continue to program, upgrade and renovate the Rialto,” said Julie Ragland, Rialto Development Director.

They are still planning renovations but are not exactly sure what the hotel developers have in mind. The Rialto is making the improvements they had been planning and raising money for before the hotel project.

“We launched the I Rock the Rialto capital campaign a few years ago, so we were already rolling along with that,” said Ragland. “We raised funds to renovate the restroom and we completed that last fall.”

Now, they are focusing on building a space for the officers and green rooms under the stage. They currently have that space in a building behind the Rialto that they rent out, so it would save money.

The theatre is also making upgrades to the balcony and will be doing some structural repairs to the building.

Starting this summer, visitors will feel more powerful AC with a new HVAC system.

Ragland says it is important that they keep up with improvements and keep the almost 100-year-old theatre alive.

“I hear from people all the time how important the Rialto is to them,” Ragland said. “It’s some place that people have been coming for decades and decades. It’s really kind of the heart of downtown.”

The theatre is a non-profit, they encourage residents to donate to help keep the Rialto alive and thriving.

Go HERE to donate or become a Rialto member.

Associated Press

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