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Palm Springs Plaza Theatre restoration lands $2.5M in CA budget plan

The Plaza Theatre in downtown Palm Springs is inching closer to its fundraising goal for a multi-million dollar restoration of the 1936 landmark.

The project received a $2.5 million allocation in the state's budget plan that's awaiting final approval Thursday.

After a $5 million contribution from TV producer and Palm Springs resident David Lee, and an anonymous $2 million donation, the project has $9.5+ million in the bank right now – nearing its initial goal of $10 million to $12 million.

But J.R. Roberts, president of the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre Foundation, said thanks to inflation and the new hope to leave an endowment, the price tag has gone up to $12 million to $16 million.

"We want to leave enough endowment behind that it's never a burden to the taxpayers," Roberts said.

The Plaza, once home to the Palm Springs Follies, first opened in 1936 and played a big role in Palm Springs history.

The renovation aims to restore the theater back to its original glory with new seats, new theater equipment, infrastructure repairs and structural improvements.

Roberts said the new money is thanks to advocacy by Assemblyman Chad Mayes and California Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis – as well as a record state budget surplus.

"We think of ourselves as a little town, but apparently we're not," Roberts said. "More importantly, others are paying attention to us. And we all need to be grateful for that."

Roberts said the fundraising goals are expected to be met by the end of this year, and construction could begin as soon as January 2023.

News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia has more on this story tonight at 6 p.m.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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