By DEUCE NIVEN
Work on the Hickman Road exterior of the old Ritz Theater building is moving forward rapidly, members of the Tabor City Council were told Tuesday.
A presentation from Friends of Tabor City spokesman Bruce McPherson, including an architects’ sketch of the proposed building facade, won cautious support from council members who said they were concerned the vision has not been widely shared in town.
“I just want to make sure the citizens like the appearance, too,” councilman Lamont Grate said.
With publication of the sketch here, council members said they hope to hear from citizens on their impressions of the Ritz facade planning.
Iron gates are already being made by Gene Burroughs, and should be ready for installation in about six weeks, McPherson said. Other aspects of architect Wallace Clontz’ vision of the facade are not, necessarily, finalized, McPherson said.
McPherson said the iron gates and facade planning have been separate from the interior design, work done by architect Stan Fowler.
Will the exterior reflect the Ritz name, and possibly the old theater marque? That’s a wish expressed by Atlantic Corp. President Rusty Carter as he announced a $50,000 donation to the Ritz restoration project last month.
Council member Miona Fonvielle asked McPherson about the Ritz marque.
“Some work is being done to try to work out both sides of that,” McPherson said. “If it needs to have the Ritz on it, so be it. I like the Ritz.
“I think everybody is going to be satisfied at the end of the day.”
McPherson said the facade will transform the area.
“When you do walk up it gives you an ambiance of being somewhere else, of being in New York, of being at the Ritz, for lack of a better term,” McPherson said.
Brick paver sales, the primary fundraising source for the exterior work, have gone well with only about 20 of some 500 bricks still available, McPherson said.
There is still time to buy, $30 for one engraved brick, $50 for two, that will be placed in the flooring inside the renovated theater, McPherson said.
Described earlier by town Promotions Director Dianne N. Ward as a Community Events Center, the facility will be a place for banquets, plays, concerts, weddings and receptions, high school reunions, and more, McPherson said.
There will be fees for use, McPherson said, that should be enough to pay for maintaining the facility.