Lafayette, CA - Park Theater revitalization scrapped

posted by ThrHistoricalSociety on December 14, 2016 at 11:46 am


From the East Bay Times: The potential buyers of the Park Theater have pulled out of plans to purchase the empty movie house, ending hopes for its revitalization.

Lafayette residents Cathy and Fred Abbott and business partner Alex McDonald have terminated their efforts to buy the 75-year-old theater on Golden Gate Way they hoped to transform into a performance and rehearsal space, and venue for art house films.

“Simply put, there were too many circumstances making it infeasible for us to return a theater use to this location,” the couple wrote in a Dec. 12 email to city administrators.

The group had recently asked the City Council for an agreement allowing them to reopen the theater under special regulations that would preserve the historic character of the neighborhood along Plaza Way.

Lafayette has been working with property owners there to revamp the block and draw more people to nearby Plaza Park.

Plans included a 250-seat theater that would screen movies and host live performances, and locally produced beer, wine and food for patrons to sip and nosh.

Ideas for parking were more ambitious, and the rejection of a November sales tax measure by voters made city funding of parking and circulation “impractical,” the business partners wrote.

The city had said it would possibly use funds from Measure C, a 1 percent sales tax increase expected to raise about $87 million over its lifetime, toward reviving the theater.

Despite plans to encourage patrons to walk, bike or use shuttles and ride-sharing, the partners said concerns about the theater’s impact on parking at the nearby library coupled with worries from nearby merchants and property owners about a crunch also factored in the decision to pull out. “Our vision of helping to green Lafayette with a variety of alternative transportation measures aimed at reducing the need for parking spaces did not succeed at generating a critical mass of support,” the Abbotts wrote.

City Manager Steve Falk said he appreciated the attempt to save the “historic resource,” and told the group he believed the Park’s revival and survival require outside support.

“Very few single-screen theaters persist in California without it, and that was a primary reason why the City Council placed the Measure C sales tax measure before the electorate,” Falk wrote to the Abbotts.

The Park screened its last film in 2005. A Fenton’s creamery was once proposed for the site, but the theater remains vacant.

Story link:

ABOUT THEATRE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA: Founded by Ben Hall in 1969, the Theatre Historical Society of America (THS) celebrates, documents and promotes the architectural, cultural and social relevance of America’s historic theatres. Through its preservation of the collections in the American Theatre Architecture Archive, its signature publication Marquee™ and Conclave Theatre Tour, THS increases awareness, appreciation and scholarly study of America’s theatres.

Learn more about historic theatres in the THS American Theatre Architecture Archives and on our website at


Comments (2)

terrywade on December 14, 2016 at 7:34 pm

This is to bad. Now the theatre will just sit and rot for many more years. With all the money in this area from very well to do people someone or a local company needs to come on board and get the place open again.

jackjames898 on March 30, 2019 at 8:12 pm

Thanks For sharing this information. It’s Nice..!!!

You must login before making a comment.

New Comment