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Neighborhood nostalgia: Old Ritz/Villa Theater listed for sale at $75K

Ritz/Villa theater
Posted at 6:11 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 19:51:28-04

MILWAUKEE — If you've ever thought about owning your own theater, now's your chance. The old Ritz/Villa Theater on Villard Ave. is up for sale by the city.

The property is listed at $75,000 and includes the theater, a property right next to it and a parking lot behind.

The 96-year-old building has been empty for decades, but has been a theater, a school and various businesses throughout the years.

"Every single person that I come across has a story about this theater. It was either their first date or they remember a movie that they saw here," said Villard Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) Director Angelique Sharpe.

The Villard Ave. BID hopes and envisions the space becoming an outdoor performance space, but said they're open to what developers have in mind.

"We could have comedy shows, we could do some first round movies, we could do some throwback movies, you know plays. I could see concerts. There's no limit," Sharpe said. "Just to give people a place to come and gather and enjoy music and entertainment."

The theater renewal is part of a bigger revitalization all along Villard Ave., including the Villard Commons and new affordable housing.

Milwaukee resident Kevin Freeman said he grew up near the villa theater and can remember the last movie he saw there, South Central. He said he's excited to see neighborhood nostalgia coming back.

"It will probably bring new life to the neighborhood as well as give the resident a chance to have something so nice in the community. Just to be able to walk to the theater, that was a nice thing," Freeman said.

Bids to buy the the theater property are due to the city by May 6th.

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