If you are heading for Saturday’s party for the Paramount and State theaters — and even if you are not — here’s a peek at Jim Ritts, the man behind the magic.
When Jim Ritts ascends the Paramount Theatre stage on Saturday for the populist palace’s annual gala, he will have much to extol.
During 2015, the director of the Paramount and State theaters toasted the older venue’s 100th birthday with a string of parties, a careful revamp of its façade, and the crowning addition of a vertical sign absent from Congress Avenue for more than 50 years.
Ritts can look back, too, on the first five years of his tenure, which saw steady audience growth for movies, comedy, music and special events, including the scene-altering Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest.
And perhaps most importantly, plans for a key project that he has quietly promoted for years — a proposed 30-story tower to replace a derelict building at the corner of East Eighth Street and Congress Avenue — were made public recently. The tall “car-free” project will not only give the theater block a whole new look and feel, but also provide a floor of free offices for Ritts’ staff, along with extra cash to renovate the interiors of both theaters.
After years of back-and-forth, Ritts’ nonprofit recently purchased the property and, on the same day, turned it over to the development group headed by architect Brad Nelsen. …