The cultural heart of Escondido has always been Grand Avenue. For much of the city’s early history, an icon of Grand Avenue was the Ritz Theater. Originally built in 1938, the historic theater which was once a vibrant place of community life in the early-mid 20th century, went through a period of decline, including becoming an X-rated movie house in the 1970’s and after a handful of attempts to restore operations, eventually shut down and has remained vacant for the past 15 years.
Now New Vintage Church, a local non-denominational church, has an exciting, fresh vision to restore the Ritz Theater and redevelop the adjacent corner building on Grand and Juniper (currently the Arthur Murray Dance Studio) into a stunning new multi-use performing arts complex that will house everything from youth theater groups, to cinema and concerts, to a corner coffee shop and private events at the scenic rooftop lounge.
NVC Lead Pastor Tim Spivey describes this endeavor as a unique opportunity to impact the city of Escondido positively in a new and creative way. “We are investing ourselves and our resources directly into blessing our community by restoring a critical historical and cultural property that has remained in decay for decades, and then not keeping it to ourselves, but opening up this multi-use arts complex for our community to enjoy along with us. While we will be using the Ritz theater as our primary space to worship, the entire facility will also be occupied by community partners and arts businesses that will have the opportunity to leverage the central location on Grand Avenue in the cultural heart of our city.”