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Local leaders push for demolition, succeed

NORTH TONAWANDA - Local leaders launched demolition at the Riviera Theatre Brownfields site, located behind the Riviera Theatre on Monday morning.

The site, which is the former Competitive Transmission building at 68 Main St., North Tonawanda, has been referred to in the past as an “eyesore.”

With plans for expansion, the Riviera Theatre and Organ Preservation Society purchased the property in 2007. The organization planned to expand the theatre by adding rest rooms and dressing rooms in order to accommodate big-name acts, as well as, more theatre goers. However, after the purchase, it was determined the site had pollution problems and needed to be demolished.

According to the Niagara County Public Information Office, the removal of the structure and contaminated soil at the site is being funded through a Niagara County Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund grant.

The organization was granted $350,000 in Niagara County Brownfields Clean Up Funds in order to not only demolish the structure, but to also remove the soil that was contaminated by oil and then replace the soil.

The structure’s demolition also lays the groundwork for the Riviera’s long-term expansion and economic development plans.

A 23,000-square-foot expansion is in order, at a cost of $5.9 million. Fund-raising has already begun in order to reach this financial goal.

“Most of our money comes from ticket sales and concessions,” said Gary Rouleau, director of development.

According Rouleau, site re mediation is planned for the fall. Rouleau stated the project is a two-year plan. With the expansion comes a black box theatre, a concessions and bar area, rest rooms, and dressing rooms.

“It is often said that we have a historic theatre, with pre-historic rest rooms,” said Rouleau. “It is important to mention that this expansion and the construction will not touch the Riviera. We want to restore and preserve the theatre, so of course, we will not be touching it

The Riviera Theatre welcomed 100,000 people to the theatre in 2012. They are considered a regional asset and have made a significant economic impact for not only North Tonawanda, but the Western New York Region as well.

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