Riviera Theater to open as early as July

The Riviera Theater on Center Street has been closed since the early 1990s, but it is expected to reopen before the fall 2014 semester, as early as July. Less than a year ago, Palace Properties of Geneseo purchased the venue in April 2013.

Above the theater are apartments, which have been fully refurbished and now house Geneseo students. With the apartment renovations finished in August, it left those involved with the construction excited to focus on the theater’s renovations.

“We are going to be open this year,” Donald Livingston, co-owner of Palace Properties and coordinator of the project, said.

Although Palace Properties will renovate the iconic building, they will maintain its old attributes with some new features after the construction.

Although it was originally used for film alone, the theater will focus on live performance and film display,

The theater will encompass elements for all the performing arts, becoming more of a concert type venue. Construction workers are implementing new structures including a stage, a dance floor and bistro tables. Regardless of these new renovations, the theater will maintain its art nouveau theme that was a part of the building’s original design.

Livingston explained that the venue could be used for events including film festivals, small band performances, lectures, comedy clubs and readings.

Although it is early, talks with artists from Rochester and local performers have foreshadowed a promising line-up for the theater already.

In addition to these, construction workers are implementing an up-to-date electronic system for digital movies, complete with full sound and a control booth. As of now, the movies to be shown are vintage rather than new films.

“We want to make it multi-purpose,” Livingston said. “Hopefully that will draw in the community to utilize it.”

Livingston also said that the response from the community has been very positive.

“A lot of people have fond memories of it and would like to see the building come back to life,” he said.

The Riviera is among the businesses in downtown Geneseo set to receive private and grant investment as part of a “Main Streets” grant program from the New York State Office of Housing and Community Renewal, according to The Livingston County News. The theater is anticipated to receive $225,000, while the program has led to a total investment of about $1.2 million in downtown Geneseo alone.