Revitalized Theatre will Provide Significant Economic Impact to Palm Springs
PALM SPRINGS, CA – December 15, 2023: The Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation announced that at the December 14 meeting of the Palm Springs City Council, the Council unanimously approved hiring Woodcliff Construction of Los Angeles as the general contractor to oversee the comprehensive renovation of the historic Plaza Theatre. The report prepared by City Staff stated that it had fully vetted and recommended the contractor. The Council had recently approved an agreement between the City of Palm Springs and the Plaza Theatre Foundation that further defined the role the Foundation will play in the restoration and management of the Theatre, which is owned by the City of Palm Springs.
While the Foundation has already raised $15.2M, rising construction costs and anticipated opening expenses require the City to secure an additional $20 million to complete the project. The Staff report outlined a recommended financing strategy to provide up to $20M in City funds to ensure that the project proceeds on schedule and identified funding sources including continued fundraising. The projected annual tax revenue (with a conservative estimate of $2M-$4M per year) will generate income for the City. The Foundation is continuing its effort to raise funds for the Theatre’s renovation, on-going operations, and future programming toward the $20 million advanced.
“We are thrilled that the Council and Staff have selected an appropriate contractor for the restoration of the Plaza Theatre,” said Foundation President J.R. Roberts. “We are also elated that the City has identified additional funding sources to help this project break ground in 2024 and open in 2025. It is important to point out that the Plaza Theatre restoration project will not negatively impact other city initiatives and that the project will generate tax income and economic benefits to the City for years to come.”
In the case of the restoration of the Plaza Theatre, there are many factors that contribute to the increased project cost, including the sometimes-delicate nature of restoring an historic building. Pre-pandemic estimates of the project were based on projections by the architects and others associated with the project in the early days. Since the project began in 2019, those involved have been able to get deep into the actual structure of the Theatre. They now have a much more complete understanding about the actual conditions and what is likely to be encountered during the restoration. Accordingly, part of the increase represents a 12.5% contingency for the construction. The City and the Plaza Theatre Foundation decided not to scale back the full restoration plan or reduce the quality of the finished project. The Foundation is committed to delivering a ‘state of the art’ building to the community upon completion.
In the spring of 2023, the city asked the Foundation to expand its scope of the project to include managing the opening and ongoing operations of the Theatre. City Council approved a resolution on this issue in the summer of 2023, although no funding for opening costs were included. At the time, the Foundation Board enthusiastically voted to expand its mission and fundraising push to raise the additional funds required to open. The Board is finalizing negotiations with Oak View Group, operator of the Acrisure Arena, to provide those services.
About Woodcliff Construction
As part of the approval process, the City recently issued a call for bids for companies wishing to participate in the historic restoration of the iconic Downtown structure. As the Theatre is a City-owned building, the contract was required to be approved by the Council. City Staff sought fully qualified contractors and found that Woodcliff Construction was the lowest bid from the firms that submitted and met or surpassed all the requirements. The firm was also approved by Architectural Resources Group, Inc. (ARG), the architects overseeing the process. ARG’s plan will restore the theatre for its new role as a vibrant cultural center in Downtown Palm Springs.
“Tonight’s approval is a significant milestone for the restoration of the Plaza Theatre,” said Foundation President J.R. Roberts. “The selection of Woodcliff Construction means we can now begin the construction phase of this project while we continue to raise funds to support it. There are many ways in which the public may continue to play a significant role in the Plaza Theatre restoration, including becoming a Founder, securing a Naming Opportunity for seats or other areas of the building, or making a general donation. We look forward to providing this venue as an exciting part of the City’s revitalized Downtown.”
Citywide and Downtown Economic Benefits
Restoration and modernization of this important City facility provides numerous tangible benefits for the community and helps deliver on the City’s previously announced downtown vision. The project provides dozens of construction jobs that will pay prevailing wage, and when completed, the Plaza Theatre will be a new downtown arts and entertainment venue.
Restauranteur Liz Osotich (Farm, Front Door, Clandestino, and Tac/Quila) said: “The Plaza is going to bring a lot more foot traffic and it’s going to keep people in downtown Palm Springs, which is really going to be a huge bonus for our community. There are a lot of great hiking venues and some beautiful hotels, but there’s not a lot of entertainment downtown. This is going to provide an opportunity for local residents and people coming into the Palm Springs area to have a place to go to see a show. I can’t tell you how many times people in our restaurants ask their server ‘What can we do for entertainment?’ and we’re almost at a loss sometimes, so this is going to be such a great boon for residents and tourists alike.”
The Theatre will also provide community engagement and pride through opportunities to support diverse and educational programming. When the restoration is completed, the Plaza Theatre will serve the community by hosting many kinds of events and productions and will be an exciting venue in downtown Palm Springs for live performances, film premieres, community and educational events, films, and much more. It is projected that the restoration work will take approximately one year to complete, allowing the Plaza Theatre to open in 2025.
The Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization and contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. For more information or to make a donation contact Foundation President J.R. Roberts at 415-297-9309 or visit SaveThePlazaTheatrePS.org.
About the Plaza Theatre
Originally built in 1936, the building was used for film premieres and screenings, nationally broadcast radio theatre programs, and other performances. In its later years, the theater was home to the long running “The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies.” Over the decades, the building has deteriorated, so the City of Palm Springs initiated a capital campaign to restore the beloved structure to its former glory.
The comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation plan will provide essential infrastructure repairs, installation of new theatrical equipment, and structural improvements to ensure that the building meets today’s fire prevention and American Disabilities Act mandates. This historic theatre has played an impressive role in Palm Springs much like the Radio City Music Hall has in New York. When the restoration is complete, the Plaza Theatre will be poised to continue to provide the city and its visitors with top notch entertainment for years to come.