Reimagining The Ritz in Historic Washington Heights
The Ritz at Washington Heights is the City of Charlotte’s newest open space on the Beatties Ford Road corridor. At this location The Ritz, the last movie theater to be built only for black people during segregation, once stood as a hub of community life. It closed in 1971 and was demolished in the early 1990s. The city-owned lot has been sitting vacant ever since. As part of the city’s Corridors of Opportunity (COO) program, The Urban Design Center (UDC) led the Beatties Ford Road community in an engagement process to identify placemaking and public space opportunities. The Ritz at Washington Heights has elements that meet the desires and needs of the community in an open space. There is a performance area with a shipping container and shelter, a plaza area with moveable seating and chairs, and a small play area. There is beautiful, enhanced landscaping and four art elements completed by local artists: A wall mural by Makayla Minter, a painted plaza and inspirational quotes by Sala Faruq and the “The Ritz at Washington Heights” sign by Junior Gomez.