Fight for the Alameda

posted by Michael Zoldessy on March 5, 2007 at 11:56 pm

ALAMEDA, CA — With a possible megaplex in the works that would ultimately ruin the theater, Tonia De Paiva is leading a charge to save the Alameda Theatre.

Tonia De Paiva strolls by the Alameda Theater — a cyclone fence surrounding its front, a cement mixer guarding its entrance, the sounds of collapse coming from deep inside — and it breaks her heart.

Her beloved Alameda Theater, with its classic art deco interior, is being converted into one of
those fancy-schmancy megaplexes with eight screens and an adjoining garage. All her
precious memories are being bulldozed.

It makes no sense to De Paiva, who’s trying to save her historic theater — built in 1932, closed in 1979 — from ending up the way of so many other movie palaces, knocked out by Blockbuster and Netflix.

For the full story, go to the Mercury-Register.

Theaters in this post

Comments (8)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on March 6, 2007 at 11:21 am

What is the problem? I thought plans for this multiplex included restoration of the original auditorium. Is that no longer the case?

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on March 7, 2007 at 2:45 am

One of the last times I visited the Alameda Theatre was when I served in the U.S. Naval Reserves, stationed at Alameda. Later on, I returned only to find it had been converted into a gymnasium with the balcony enclosed with ugly looking plastic drop sheets.

The stage had been completely removed however, the set of beautifully ornate curtains, which I photographed, were still hanging there but looking very sad indeed!

The facade of the Alameda was always so impressive; looking like a huge “lace doily.” Let’s hope she will be protected like her sister
ALAHAMBRA, another gymnasium across the S.F. bay on Polk Street.
I believe this theater was once owned by San Francisco’s Nasser family ie; ALHAMBRA, CASTRO, FILMORE, NEW MISSION, ROYAL and more?

RobbRatto
RobbRatto on May 5, 2007 at 7:02 am

The historic Alameda Theatre is being rehabilitated while a seven screen Cineplex and a parking garage are being built next door. The only work on the historic theatre to accommodate the new Cineplex building is two existing exit doors on the west side of the building, one upstairs and one downstairs are being enlarged for entrance from the historic theatre lobby (where everyone will enter from) to the other seven screens.

The historic theatre is being brought back to its former glory as much as the budget will allow. The ground floor and upper lobbies will be restore to almost the way they looked on opening day back in 1932. The main auditorium is being rehabilitated also but because of the nature of the movie business today some new elements are being added. Along with a state of the art projection and audio system, stadium seating will be added to the main floor of the auditorium. However, the stage (not removed), the orchestra pit, the ceiling, walls, and floors are all being rehabilitated. In addition, restoration experts were able to save the curtains in a previous post and they will be restored to their original splendor. A new screen will be installed also. The screen will either be the largest or second largest screen in Northern California. The existing balcony of the theatre is not part of the current project and hopefully will be rehabilitated in the future.

Along with Seismic retrofitting, the facade is being rehabilitated also. The marquee will be restored to the way it looked in the thirties. The rehabilitation of the historic theatre is part of a redevelopment project that has taken over five years to finally get it started.

I don’t know what fight Tonia De Paiva is leading, but the fight for the theatre is over and the people who understood the only way to preserve the historic theatre was to make it a part of this overall project have won. We’ve stood fast for over five years of public meetings, law suits, and misinformation, like the article written for the Mercury Register, and prevailed. It’s not collapse Ms. De Paiva hears as she walks by the project, it’s rehabilitation and in some cases restoration. Instead of her heart breaking, it should rejoice knowing that by this time next year she’ll be able to experience a modern movie going experience in a beautifully rehabilitated Alameda Theatre.

The ironic part of this entire story is some of the opponents of the current project floated a plan that would have cut up the inside of the historic theatre into five auditoriums, including three in the main downstairs auditorium. Now that would have been a disaster.

See you all at the movies in the historic Alameda Theatre.

Robb Ratto
Executive Director
Park Street Business Association

RobbRatto
RobbRatto on May 5, 2007 at 7:02 am

The historic Alameda Theatre is being rehabilitated while a seven screen Cineplex and a parking garage are being built next door. The only work on the historic theatre to accommodate the new Cineplex building is two existing exit doors on the west side of the building, one upstairs and one downstairs are being enlarged for entrance from the historic theatre lobby (where everyone will enter from) to the other seven screens.

The historic theatre is being brought back to its former glory as much as the budget will allow. The ground floor and upper lobbies will be restore to almost the way they looked on opening day back in 1932. The main auditorium is being rehabilitated also but because of the nature of the movie business today some new elements are being added. Along with a state of the art projection and audio system, stadium seating will be added to the main floor of the auditorium. However, the stage (not removed), the orchestra pit, the ceiling, walls, and floors are all being rehabilitated. In addition, restoration experts were able to save the curtains in a previous post and they will be restored to their original splendor. A new screen will be installed also. The screen will either be the largest or second largest screen in Northern California. The existing balcony of the theatre is not part of the current project and hopefully will be rehabilitated in the future.

Along with Seismic retrofitting, the facade is being rehabilitated also. The marquee will be restored to the way it looked in the thirties. The rehabilitation of the historic theatre is part of a redevelopment project that has taken over five years to finally get it started.

I don’t know what fight Tonia De Paiva is leading, but the fight for the theatre is over and the people who understood the only way to preserve the historic theatre was to make it a part of this overall project have won. We’ve stood fast for over five years of public meetings, law suits, and misinformation, like the article written for the Mercury Register, and prevailed. It’s not collapse Ms. De Paiva hears as she walks by the project, it’s rehabilitation and in some cases restoration. Instead of her heart breaking, it should rejoice knowing that by this time next year she’ll be able to experience a modern movie going experience in a beautifully rehabilitated Alameda Theatre.

The ironic part of this entire story is some of the opponents of the current project floated a plan that would have cut up the inside of the historic theatre into five auditoriums, including three in the main downstairs auditorium. Now that would have been a disaster.

See you all at the movies in the historic Alameda Theatre.

Robb Ratto
Executive Director
Park Street Business Association

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on May 5, 2007 at 7:17 am

That is fabulous. It only means that the building will be entering a new and exciting phase of life. Sound business planning with respect for history is good thinking in my book.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on May 7, 2007 at 2:53 am

Am I correct in stating that the Nasser family (Castro, SF) once owned this theater?
Perhaps they (or Blumenfeld Theatres) and local newspapers may have historic files containing photographs, etc?
Congratulations on winning the battle… I’ll drive up from Long Beach for the grand re-opening celebrations -might fly if gas gets any higher!!!

RobbRatto
RobbRatto on May 9, 2007 at 2:46 pm

Simon,

According to the info about the Strand Theater (also in Alameda) on this site, the Nasser family did own the Alameda Theatre for a time. I believe the Lippert family owned it in the 60’s until it closed.

If you, or anyone else, would like to see pictures of the rehab of the theatre go to the city of Alameda web site, http://www.ci.alameda.ca.us/theater/theater.html or to shopparkstreet.com. Both sites have up to date pictures of the rehab progress. If you, or anyone else, has any questions please email me using the email link at shopparkstreet.com. I’m the Executive Director of the Park Street Business Association. If I can’t answer your questions I can probably point you in the right direction.

Thanks for your comments and thanks to “life’s too short” also.

Best Regards,
Robb Ratto

terrywade
terrywade on August 6, 2007 at 9:06 am

Thanks Robb for the correct info on the Alameda. The people of Alameda can once again enjoy movies. No more trips out of town to see a movie. I hope they put in a large curved screen in the main theatre. The stereo sound will be awsome in such a large palace.

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