Instead of bumbling on our phones while waiting for some car magic to happen at Firestone, we instead found ourselves drawn to wander and explore the L-shaped complex that is Riverdale Plaza. With over half of its storefronts now closed, it was like a walk down memory lane – except without any memories to revisit, just imaginations left to wonder about what might have been.
Most striking was the now vacant Riverdale Theatre, next to Firestone. It’s cool black & white signage, dusty movie posters still up and a clear ticket window drew us over to daydream more about its past. Since then, we tucked a bit into the history of the old 99-cent theatre; we also learned that the Plaza itself is slated for redevelopment.
History of Riverdale Theatre
Excerpted from Cinema Treasures:
“District Theaters built the Riverdale Theatre in Riverdale Plaza. The Riverdale opened March 20, 1968 ‘P.J.’ starring George Peppard. It had 815 seats and was designed by architects Donald N. Coupard & Associates.
In late-1982, the Riverdale was acquired by P & G Theaters. In August 1985, this theater became the first 99-cent theater in the area. In the spring of 1993, it was twinned. The movie theatre closed with ‘Kingdom Come’ (2001) as the last movie presented in the auditorium on the left.”
Redevelopment at Riverdale Plaza
As reported the October edition of The Biz (the monthly publication of the Riverdale Park Business Association), Riverdale Plaza is “set to be sold to a developer who hopes to create a mixed-use hotspot at the edge of the future Purple Line’s Riverdale Park station.”
“Built in the 1960s, the L-shaped, 28-store Riverdale Plaza complex was once a bustling center of commerce. Today, about half of the 28 stores in Riverdale Plaza are open for business.”
Status of Riverdale Theatre
We’re not sure what this new development will mean for the old movie theatre. As The Biz notes, “[Riverdale Theatre’s] been closed since 2007, and its basement is filled with water and mold today.” Definitely check back with the Riverdale Park Business Association‘s blog as they’ve got the 411 on this and more!
In the meantime, if you’re a fan of history and cool signage, there’s plenty to explore at Riverdale Plaza as it currently exists. Be sure to visit on an empty stomach as the newly opened La Chiquita serves up some tasty Salvadoran cuisine not to be missed!
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