February 25, 2011

P3 revitalizes downtown Loveland

For the last three decades, Loveland has been known as a thriving arts community. The arts scene revolves around more than 30 galleries, two foundries, two sculpture parks, more than 300 public artworks and, of course, the hundreds of artists and performers who live and work in Loveland.

In the heart of this arts community is the historic Rialto Theater. The theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to thrive as it provides new and unique experiences for its patrons. However, to sustain growth, expansion is necessary and will not only benefit the theater but the region as a whole.

The Rialto Bridge Project, a significant economic stimulus for downtown Loveland, will meet the space needs of the Rialto Theater for the next half century. The project is a unique partnership between the city of Loveland, the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado and the Rialto Bridge LLC, a private development company headed by Troy Peterson.

The city and Rialto Bridge LLC will jointly own the new 20,000-square-foot, three-story building that will replace two existing one-story buildings that sit on the west side of the theater. In addition to expanding the theater’s lobby, the $4 million project will provide a green room, dressing rooms, staging space, restrooms on each floor, and will add both an elevator and stairs.

Currently, performers – who can number more than 100 in a single production – must run up and down the alley between acts into a separate building that serves both as a dressing room and green room. Over the last few years several performers have been injured falling in the alley made treacherous by poor light, ice, snow or rain.

Ultimately, the theater’s expansion will rectify the space limitations that currently stymie patrons, staff and performers at the Rialto. In addition, a new tapas restaurant on the first floor, in the style of the Med in Boulder or Cafe Vino in Fort Collins, will provide superb dining amenities.

New community gathering spaces on the second floor will make the Rialto and downtown Loveland more attractive destinations for residents, visitors and businesses.

Major step forward

Those of us involved in the project see this as the first major step in revitalizing downtown Loveland. We expect follow-on projects to result from the RFP recently issued by the city outlining exceptional mixed use development opportunities for other downtown areas.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the city demonstrated its commitment to the Rialto Bridge by unanimously passing on first reading the additional supplemental budget that brings the total appropriation to the $1.2 million necessary to fund the “performers” portion of the project. This step clearly demonstrates that the city is serious about promoting the arts and revitalizing the heart of our city.

The project has also been fueled by the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado’s commitment to raise $700,000 for the “community/patron” portions of the building.

Rialto Bridge LLC is investing about $2.1 million in the private portion of the building. They will own the space housing the first-floor restaurant and the third-floor office space which will bring up to 60 additional employees downtown. The city will own the rest of the building. The Rialto Bridge will be a condo building, allowing both the city and Rialto Bridge LLC to share the costs of the common areas.

This project serves as a model for Northern Colorado and the state by bringing together the three funding Ps – Public, Private and Philanthropic – that can leverage a variety of sources for the community good.

Phil Farley is director of Loveland Community Relations for the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado. He can be reached at phil@CommunityFoundationNC.org or 970-776-9295.

For the last three decades, Loveland has been known as a thriving arts community. The arts scene revolves around more than 30 galleries, two foundries, two sculpture parks, more than 300 public artworks and, of course, the hundreds of artists and performers who live and work in Loveland.

In the heart of this arts community is the historic Rialto Theater. The theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, continues to thrive as it provides new and unique experiences for its patrons. However, to sustain growth, expansion is necessary and will not only benefit the…

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