After the completion of the Rialto Theater demolition, city leaders considered auctioning off the nostalgic marquee letters and glass blocks, but voted on an alternate plan during Tuesday’s city council meeting. The new potential investor for the building will now have first dibs to purchase the items of local nostalgia.
Renee Ranaai Pedraza from Wedding Lace, a wedding dress boutique located in the Alice downtown area addressed city council members. Pedraza expressed her hopes for the city to invest in the Rialto Theater and pleaded for them to take pride when making long term decisions for downtown Alice.
"My family has been in business for now 42 years and people visit our wedding shop from Corpus Christi, Aransas Pass, Hebbronville and many other long travel distance areas. Our customers will spend hours at our wedding shop and always ask, ’Where can we go out to eat and hang out for the afternoon?’ I wish I could tell visitors of Alice to go across the street and enjoy the park, or a food truck area, or a recreational movie night- just something," said Pedraza. "Other cities that invest in their downtown areas (to) give visitors the option to stay longer, eat, shop and spend more money."
City Manager Michael Esparza stated during the meeting the consequences of the building remaining vacant for an additional three years, "The building will have significant and considerable deterioration if restorations are not completed."
"The conversation to create a park space at the Rialto Theater has been discussed for years, but here is the thing, the city is cutting its budget a million dollars from short falls, employment positions have been cut and the city is struggling to repair roads and much needed infrastructure repairs," Councilman Pete Crisp said. "I would love to see a park open in the building. I would love to see an investor bring vibrancy to the downtown building, but the truth is the city does not have the funding to invest in a park or venue at the moment. An investor for these great ideas would be more ideal in regards to the city’s current financial situation."
The city is currently taking bids for potential buyers with active plans for the restoration and development for the iconic Rialto Theater, with the respect of the marquees and glass blocks many people from the local area hold dear to their heart.