Renovation of the historic Royal Theater in Guadalupe received a big boost with a $5 million state grant for the project that community leaders hope will revive the downtown area.
Guadalupe leaders and residents joined state Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, on Thursday for a pair of check presentations amounting to $8 million for two unrelated projects in the small city at the northwestern corner of Santa Barbara County.
In addition to the state grant, Guadalupe also received a federal grant for the renovation of the vacant 5,084-square-foot theater at 848 Guadalupe St. (Highway 1) and built in 1939-40.
“Today’s a really special day,” Limón said, noting the two events provided proof of the partnership among all levels of governments.
The partnership will make the community’s vision for the Royal Theater a reality, she added.
“To me, being here at the Royal Theater is special. This is about bringing economic vitality, economic momentum to our community,” Limón said.
The project will create a space focused on the arts for students, families and visitors.
“Every community deserves a space to gather, to convene, to connect and to advance the arts,” she said.
The state funding for the Royal Theater can be viewed as an investment, Limón said, noting the locked doors behind her.
“We will one day open these doors and have people walk through these doors and into a renovated space were they can convene and enjoy the arts,” Limon said.
Los Amigos de Guadalupe, an economic development organization dedicated to the resilience of Guadalupe and responsible for finding funding for various projects in the city, spearheaded the grant application process.
Tom Brandeberry, from Los Amigos, said they successfully applied for a federal Economic Development Administration grant for $5 million, pushing them halfway to the $10 million needed.
“With the senator’s help we are there,” Brandeberry said. “This project will be a catalyst to revival of this downtown and that makes it, I think, important.”
Asia King, a U.S. Economic Development representative, said the agency’s believes the investment will help various industries flourish.
“Restoring this historic landmark has the potential to create more than 500 jobs in the region and to stimulate millions of dollars of private invent in the future, and that’s what we’re about at the EDA,” King said.
The funding for the key project came as several businesses, including a gym, look to open in the downtown area, Guadalupe Mayor Ariston Julian said.
“With this theater we’ll be able to create energy around what we’re doing here,” Julian said, adding that the theater project will take about five years. “But we want to finish it a lot sooner than that.”
Plans call for the theater to become a venue for various types of live entertainment. In addition to renovating the historic structure, plans call for an outdoor amphitheater and more.
Garret Matsuura, president of the 2-year-old Guadalupe Business Association and operator of Arclight Media, said local business people believe that both the theater renovation and community center construction will be “huge economic drivers for the city.”
“We think this is a critical component of the downtown,” Matsuura said of the Royal Theater building. “It’s a huge downtown anchor spot.”
Before celebrating the Royal Theater funding, Limón attended a ceremony occurred at the Housing Authority of Santa Barbara County’s site at the 1000 block of Escalante Street, where a $3 million grant will fund a community center as part of the Escalante Meadows development.
The project will involve the demolition of Guadalupe Ranch Acres with 52 units to create Escalante Meadows with 80 units and 194 parking spaces.
Guadalupe has received millions of dollars of grants to renovate Le Roy Park and its community center, Central Park and more.
“There’s a lot of things happening in Guadalupe,” Julian said.