Reimagining The Ritz in Historic Washington Heights
This Saturday an icon of the Historic West End will be brought back to life. The Ritz at Washington Heights is the City of Charlotte’s newest open space on the Beatties Ford Road corridor. At this location The Ritz, the last movie theater to be built only for black people during segregation, once stood as a hub of community life. It closed in 1971 and was demolished in the early 1990s. The city-owned lot has been sitting vacant ever since.
As part of the city’s Corridors of Opportunity (COO) program, The Urban Design Center (UDC) led the Beatties Ford Road community in an engagement process to identify placemaking and public space opportunities. This vacant parcel rose to the top with the vision of restoring community life on this corner of the corridor.
The UDC and Historic Washington Heights received a $200,000 Lowe’s 100 Hometowns grant earlier this year in addition to $50,000 in COO funding. There was one catch — the project had to be designed and built within three months. City staff and community leaders rolled up their sleeves, working hard to bring The Ritz vision to life. The new community space will open on Saturday, Nov. 6 with a 10 a.m. ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring city leadership and community members. In addition, from 3 -10:30 p.m. there will be entertainment, food and of course — movie night!
The Ritz at Washington Heights has elements that meet the desires and needs of the community in an open space. There is a performance area with a shipping container and shelter, a plaza area with moveable seating and chairs, and a small play area. There is beautiful, enhanced landscaping and four art elements completed by local artists: a wall mural by Makayla Minter, a painted plaza and inspirational quotes by Sala Faruq and the “The Ritz at Washington Heights” sign by Junior Gomez.
You will regularly be able to join the Historic Washington Heights community at The Ritz, enjoying community and the movies once again.