El Dorado Entertainment District
El Dorado, Arkansas
Westlake Reed Leskosky, working with the non-profit organization El Dorado Festivals & Events, Inc., has master planned and designed an arts and entertainment district in downtown El Dorado, Arkansas. The intent is to improve the quality of life and re-brand the former oil boomtown as a cultural performance mecca in order to help slow the decline in population (currently at 18,500) and revitalize the local economy. The master plan leverages existing historic assets, including the Rialto Theatre and five other legacy structures, as well as new construction to create a multiple venue district that will celebrate that which is unique in El Dorado and that will appeal to contemporary audiences and future generations.
The current program includes:
Festival Venue/Amphitheater for 7,000 patrons
Indoor Music Venue for 2,400 patrons
Black Box / Multi-Purpose Room for 100 patrons
Multi-Use Theatre for 750 patrons
Restaurant/Club with Stage
Visual Arts Exhibition Space and Artist Studios
Children's Activity Center
The plan co-locates facilities and four performance venues in a dense cluster in order to maintain the historic connection from Jefferson Street to Locust Street and to exploit synergies between venues and other entertainment uses.
The project, currently in construction, is utilizing state and federal historic tax credits for project equity.
The project has been divided into segments: North and South. The North portion of the El Dorado Entertainment District consists of three distinct existing historic buildings and new infill construction that will connect them at ground level.
The 850-seat Rialto Theatre, an abandoned historic theatre originally built in 1929, will be renovated to function as a primary venue for the South Arkansas Symphony, a variety of entertainment produced by local and regional companies, and as a presenting house for traveling shows. Its stage can be used as a black box, involving deployment of a flexible pit/forestage lift.
McWilliams Furniture Building - Art Gallery and Artist Studios
The McWilliams Building is a four-story, 1920s abandoned former furniture store/warehouse contiguous with the Rialto. The project reorganizes existing spaces into a visual art gallery, artist studios (for artists-in-residence), and offices for the South Arkansas Symphony and El Dorado Festivals and Events--both 501(c)3 organizations.
Trinca Building -
Reception and Connector
Built as a bus depot in 1928, the single-story Trinca Building will support both the McWilliams Building and Rialto Theatre providing concessions, lobby and social space that may also be rented independently. A key design feature is the restoration and retention of the steel framework for the former roof with a new independent roof system constructed above.
The South portion of the project consists of two distinct existing historic buildings that will be renovated, site improvements and new support structures for festivals, and the development of Heritage Park, a one-block green space converted from an existing asphalt parking lot.
Griffin Auto Building - Restaurant, Events, Music
The Griffin Auto Building is a national historic register building consisting of an open air filling station, an enclosed showroom / sales floor, and a warehouse / shop. The filling station will be enclosed by glass curtain wall and converted to a restaurant dining area with stage for performance of live music. The showroom will house a commercial kitchen and VIP area for events. The warehouse will be converted to an 1,800 seat (2,400 standing capacity) music venue.
Ritchie Grocery Building - Kitchen, Storage, Offices
The Ritchie Grocery Building is a collection of three connected historic buildings that once functioned as a warehouse for distribution of products such as tobacco and canned goods and that will eventually house a large-scale commercial production kitchen to cater to a crowd of +/-7,000 during music festivals, storage for the entertainment district, and office space for El Dorado Festivals and Events administrative staff and the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra (SASO). The lawn site north of the Ritchie Building (front yard) may be developed as either a park, a parking lot, a children's play area, a water feature, a location of public sculptural art, or some combination thereof.
Festival Site / Amphitheatre
A key portion of the project is a music festival site. Located east of the Griffin Building (once a riding ring), the site will function variously as a park and an amphitheater for 7,000 patrons. New pavilion structures will be constructed along the east edge of the amphitheater site for public use and local farmer market use. The pavilion structures will be used as temporary concession and restroom facilities during large music festivals. The north-most pavilion shall house permanent site restroom facilities.