An art nouveau film theater popular in the mid-20th century, The Riviera Theatre on Center Street has been undergoing renovations since it was purchased in April 2013. After almost two years of construction, the owners aim for a grand opening around the holidays. Don Livingston of Geneseo Palace Properties decided to purchase and renovate the Riviera with his partner in order to create a venue for vintage film showcases, film festivals, local band performances, comedy acts and more.
After a few shortcomings and roadblocks, the Palace Properties are confident that the opening will happen this winter and are already taking bookings for the spring.
“As of now, all the major construction is done,” Livingston said. “We are currently finishing up the painting and trimming on the interior.”
Livingston and his contractor have successfully built a stage, dance floor and bistro tables. They are also constructing high-tech electronic systems for live and film performances.
Photographs have been filtering through Facebook as construction has reached the home stretch.
“We hope that students come see the grand opening,” Livingston said. “We want it to be a big part of the local and student community.”
Locals from Rochester, student groups and townspeople have all shown interest in utilizing the venue, giving the Riviera prospects to reach out to broad genres. Students like sophomore Keara Doyle have already jumped onto the opportunity of using the Riviera’s performance space.
Along with many of her peers, Doyle has developed a project dubbed “Valley Sounds” which will bring in local artists to perform for the Geneseo community.
“We want to give a professional environment to artists here, as well as broaden the fanbase of bands across western New York,” Doyle said. “The Riviera is a perfect place to bring music to the Geneseo student body.”
Valley Sounds has already recruited artists such as freshman Blaise Tangney and sophomore Ella Mosco, as well as bands like Soft Cough and others originating from Buffalo and Rochester to perform at a show scheduled for this March in the renovated Riviera.
“This project is a way for all of us to enjoy the theatre, amazing music and connect with the community here,” Doyle said.
Livingston plans to have other organizations step forward to utilize the space for similar projects.
“There is no other place like Geneseo in this part of the state,” Livingston said. “It is a place full of culture, and we hope the Riviera adds to that.”