Lease expiring on Berkeley’s Oaks Theater; new operator sought
BERKELEY, CA — Metropolitan Theaters of Los Angeles will not be renewing its current lease on the twin-screen Oaks Theater when it expires at the end of this month. The current owner would prefer to keep the theater operating and hopes that a northern California theater management firm would become the leasee.
Currently, no plan is in place for theater operations come March 1. One longtime employee, who asked to remain anonymous, was confident that another theater operator would step in: “This is a wonderful spot here. It’s a wonderful location. You really can’t miss here. Someone will definitely pick it up. I have very high hopes for it.” Officials at Metropolitan Theatres could not be reached for comment.
A tip received by the Express suggested that Oaks employees had cited Rialto Cinemas, which operates the Elmwood in Berkeley and took over the newly renovated Cerrito Theater in El Cerrito from Speakeasy Theaters last July, as a potential suitor. Ky Boyd, proprietor of Rialto Cinemas, would neither confirm nor deny such reports. He was, however, aware of the lease’s upcoming expiration. “We’re always looking for other opportunities,” he said, but declined to comment further.
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I hope who ever takes the Oaks over will take out the wall down the middle and make the downstairs one big cinema and put the twin up in the former balcony. The Oaks is in much better shape then Landmarks Albany and California Theatres in the area. Those need major remodling but Landmark won’t spend a dime on property they don’t own and just lease. The Rialto chain has done wonders to the Elmwood & Cerrito Cinemas they run lets hope they move into the Oaks Theatre. The North Oakland and Berkley areas need a nice cinema to attend.
1) Any interior construction will automatically trigger full ADA compliance, therefore creating a likely $1million cost to have access to the balconies.
The curse upon the oaks is that since it is surrounded by Landmark Chain Theaters, it is “cleared” on new product choice. Clearance is a process where preferential treatment is given to the larger and/or better attended facilities, so the Oaks is (unless a multi million dollar renovation is done, which must include providing parking) stuck drawing from about a 25% share of the film leftovers from Landmark. The best thing for the long term of the Oaks would be if it were acquired by Landmark, however with all of their screens just down the road at the California, Albany Twin etc, I think this is unlikely.
Removing the center wall is absurd. If anything, the facility should be further plexed into four screens, possibly two upstairs and two downstairs.
A very nice theatre……Lets hope a reputable firm signs on a new lease.
Plex it to 4! That would make it TOO SMALL to enjoy a movie!