• September 12, 2016

    Boston, MA – Emerson considers reopening Colonial Theatre


    From The Boston Globe: Nearly a year after closing the Colonial Theatre, Emerson College is considering proposals from a handful of outside groups to reopen the storied playhouse — a move that would broaden the city’s cultural offerings and could help arts organizations navigating a rapidly changing entertainment landscape.

    The college, which endured widespread criticism last fall when the Globe disclosed Emerson’s possible plan to convert the Colonial into a flexible dining hall and performance space, has declined to identify the groups or characterize their proposals. But the Globe has identified several organizations that submitted bids. They include a consortium of arts groups operating locally, as well as at least one national theater management company.

    The local consortium — which includes Celebrity Series of Boston, Broadway in Boston, Boston Lyric Opera, and Live Nation — has put in a proposal to provide programming. In addition, Boston Lyric Opera submitted its own independent programming bid.

    Pennsylvania-based SMG, an international venue management, marketing, and development firm, has also entered a plan for the theater, which has been dark since “The Book of Mormon” closed in October.

    “We’re looking at the proposals internally,” said Carole McFall, director of media relations at Emerson. “We’re hoping to make a decision this fall.”

    Don Law, president of Live Nation New England, said the consortium would bring touring Broadway shows, musical acts, opera, and more to the theater.

  • August 2, 2016

    Flushing, Queens, NY – Historic Flushing theater may finally be redeveloped after 30 years of neglect


    From Curbed NY: Xinyuan Real Estate, the Chinese firm behind Williamsburg’s The Oosten and a forthcoming Hell’s Kitchen tower, is making its first foray into Queens with the acquisition of RKO Keith’s Theater in Flushing. The firm acquired the theater for $66 million with plans to convert it into a 269-condo building, Real Estate Weekly writes.

    The theater’s acquisition marks a next chapter for the decrepit, partially-landmarked building that’s been vacant for over three decades. Seller JK Equities’s plans to remake the theater into a 269-unit condo crumbled when the developer relisted the property in February.

    JK Equities was the most recent in a string of developers looking to recast the once-lovely theater as an inhabitable destination, but through the decades those plans have fallen by the wayside for one reason or the next. In the late 1980s, former site owner Thomas Huang wanted to convert the theater, with its newly-landmarked ticket booth and grand lobby, into a hotel. But Huang illegally demolished some of the interiors in a move that netted him felony charges and put the theater back on the market.

    Controversial developer Shaya Boymelgreen purchased the site in 2002 for $15 million with plans to build out condos at the site, but Boymelgreen ended up selling the theater to Patrick Thompson in 2010 for $20 million.

    JK Equities picked the site up from Thompson in 2013 for $30 million, and have now sold the theater to Xinyuan for over twice what they paid for it just three years ago. Whether or not Xinyuan will be the developer to end the site’s 30 years of plight remains to be seen, but their plans are promising, at least.

    Judging by a statement released by Xinyuan Chairman Yong Zhang, the condos planned for the site will cater to a more monied demographic, “The location for this project in downtown Flushing is ideally situated particularly as there is a shortage of inventory in the higher-end condominium segment. Given the location of this project, we expect it will be appealing to both local and foreign buyers and investors.”

    Real Estate Weekly reports that Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, the firm co-founded by Pritzker-winning architect I.M. Pei, will be designing the project. The firm’s website lists a project known as Flushing Square, the LLC that held the title for the property when JK Equities owned the site, as in development. Curbed has reached out to confirm PCF’s role.

  • August 1, 2016

    San Clemente, CA – San Clemente eyes new plan to renovate historic Miramar Theater


    From the Orange County Register: A plan is in the works to bring San Clemente’s landmark Miramar Theater back to life as a performing arts center, paired with a one-time bowling alley next door that would be reborn as a collection of small specialty restaurants in a courtyard setting.

    The once-stately theater, built in 1938, has been shuttered for more than two decades.

    A succession of plans to resuscitate it never gained traction. Now Mark Spizzirri, part of a partnership that owns the property at 1701 N. El Camino Real, is preparing to submit a new plan to the city. It is different from prior plans in two respects:

    – It proposes to stay within the same basic footprint as what is there now.

    – It has the help and support of two influential San Clemente professionals, determined to see it succeed where others failed.

    Wayne Eggleston, a former mayor and councilman, played a major role in turning the former home of San Clemente founder Ole Hanson into Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. After several meetings with Spizzirri, he has taken a personal interest in the Miramar project and is working with Spizzirri as a volunteer to help navigate the permit process.

    Jim Holloway, who retired from City Hall in 2015 after 28 years as San Clemente’s community development director, likewise met repeatedly with Spizzirri and took a personal interest in the plan. Holloway said he started out as a volunteer, but the project’s consultants began to solicit his technical expertise to such an extent that they finally retained his services.

    “It got to be a lot of work,” the retired city official said. He said he is able to use his knowledge of the permit process, North Beach’s community plan, the area’s projected parking needs and how parking waivers have played into other nearby revivals like Casino San Clemente, enabling him to help craft a plan he feels the city and the Coastal Commission can embrace. It is a plan that, just two years ago, he would have been on the other end of processing.

    Spizzirri, who owns a classic car business in San Juan Capistrano, purchased the Miramar and bowling alley buildings in 2007 with the idea of restoring them and putting them to new use. Before he could do anything, the economy took a dive.

    Spizzirri was said to be traveling this week and could not be reached for comment about the project..

    The site has little space to park cars but the city code allows the city to waive required parking spaces for renovations of designated historic buildings like the Casino and the Miramar. In 2009 the City Council waived 64 required parking spaces to help make a revival of the Casino viable.

    Holloway said he is convinced this Miramar plan could be the one that finally succeeds. It is designed to be in harmony with a design study that the city commissioned in 2012 to identify possible solutions for the long-vacant former cinema.

    The city used a $20,000 grant from the California Office of Historic Preservation to hire a design firm that specialized in saving old movie houses. The firm inspected the premises and suggested viable uses that included movies, stage events, weddings, arts celebrations, conferences and special events, while retail and restaurant use could complement the venue in the bowling-alley portion.

    A 2013 ownership dispute put that into limbo, with title eventually awarded to Spizzirri’s partnership.

  • July 23, 2016

    Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie gets approval on $20M expansion to historic theater


    From the Asbury Park Press: Curtains have gone up on a $20 million expansion project for Count Basie Theatre, after the borough’s Zoning Board approved the project on Thursday night.

    The board’s approval means engineering work can begin and building permits can be pulled, though it could still be months before any construction commences on the site.

    Adam Philipson, president and CEO of the nonprofit that runs the theater, did not return calls on Thursday and it’s unclear when work on the expansion would begin.

    What does the plan include?

    Plans call for the expansion of both ends of the current theater, doubling its footprint and occupying an entire block on Monmouth Street, between Maple Avenue and Pearl Street.

    The east expansion is two stories and totals 11,489 square feet, including a larger entryway into the theater, more concessions, a lounge and an elevator. The work on the building’s west side will be a three-story, 30,000-square-foot expansion. The west wing will have a second performance venue, improved dressing rooms, rehearsal space, classrooms for community education, two elevators, a roof deck and restrooms.

    Improving Basie’s backstage facilities was among the top priorities of the project. At a zoning meeting last month, Philipson told the story of singer Harry Connick Jr. calling the dressing rooms unacceptable in front of a Count Basie crowd.

    Count Basie officials asked the zoning board to approve an exception on building height restrictions. The building will rise to just over 66 feet, slightly taller than allowed. Board members had few problems with that issue and focused mainly on parking, which is at a severe shortage in Red Bank.

  • July 20, 2016

    Dillsburg, PA – Fire destroys Dillsburg drive-in theater’s old movie screen


    From the York Dispatch: Fire destroyed the remnants of the old movie screen at Haar’s Drive-In Theatre just outside Dillsburg early Tuesday morning.

    Fire crews were dispatched to the blaze at 185 Logan Road in Carroll Township about 3:45 a.m., according to a York County 911 Center supervisor.

    Demolition crews had already reduced the old screen to a pile of wood and debris, which is what caught fire, according to Fire Chief Scott McClintock of Dillsburg’s Citizens Hose Co.

    A track hoe that was left parked next to the pile sustained a good deal of fire damage, he said.

    “It’s not destroyed, but it’s going to need a lot of work and repair,” McClintock said.

    No one was hurt, he said, and crews had the blaze under control in about 15 minutes.

    Demolition crew called: It took about 90 minutes to fully extinguish flames.

    “We had to wait on scene to get the demolition people there to operate the heavy equipment needed to move around the pile,” McClintock said.

  • July 14, 2016

    Albany, NY – Albany’s Palace Theatre plans $65 million expansion


    From the Times Union: The Palace Theatre is poised to undergo a $65 million transformation that if fully realized would include a new, smaller theater along North Pearl Street, an expansion of the historic original theater’s lobby and stage house, and a state-of-the-art video post-production facility. The vision for the project was introduced Wednesday at a news conference with theater, city and county officials. They lauded it as yet another major upgrade to the attractions in downtown Albany, alongside $16 million in improvements to the atrium of the Times Union Center and the new, $78 million Albany Capital Center convention facility due to open next year. Information about funding for the project was not provided, nor were details about prospective new programming. “This project is undoubtedly the most transformative arts and culture redevelopment venture in Albany in recent memory and will further invigorate the downtown area, spur economic development, create jobs and provide a more sustainable future for the arts in the Capital Region,” said Alan Goldberg, chairman of the board of directors for the Palace Performing Arts Center. The nonprofit entity operates the Palace Theatre and would, pending approval by the Albany Common Council, take over ownership of the building from the city. It previously had leased the venue. According to estimates supplied by the Palace, the project is expected to have a $125 million economic impact on the community and produce an estimated 225 full-time jobs during a three-year construction period. The downtown Albany area would see the Palace’s annual economic impact more than double, to $10 million, after the project’s completion. Estimates are for annual attendance of more than 500,000 annually, up from current audiences totaling 175,000 per year. “I think this is wonderful for Albany,” said Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, producing artistic director of nearby Capital Repertory Theatre. “This kind of facility would be a huge draw. We’re a capital city that deserves a beautiful space that would attract people from across the region.” Philip Morris, the Proctors CEO who guided its expansion starting in 2003, said he was unaware of the scope of the Palace project which in cost eclipses the $42 million in renovations and expansion at Proctors in Schenectady that were completed nine years ago.

  • June 30, 2016

    Larchmont, NY – Larchmont Residents Rush to Save Theater


    From The Wall Street Journal: Strolling to the Larchmont Playhouse to watch the latest films has been a tradition in Vicki Rosenstreich’s family for more than 30 years.

    Now she and other fans of the 83-year-old theater want future generations to have that same opportunity.

    The owner of the Larchmont Playhouse has put it up for sale, asking $1.5 million. Residents in Larchmont, a Westchester County village 13 miles northeast of Manhattan, fear the theater could close.

    A group of admirers are hoping to raise enough money to buy the theater and operate it as a nonprofit organization or form a partnership with another group interested in keeping the space as a movie house.

    “What we are hoping for is a stay of execution,” said Ms. Rosenstreich, 72 years old, a Larchmont resident of 36 years.

  • May 27, 2016

    Independence, IA – Strong winds damage historic Malek Theatre


    Strong winds from last night’s storm damaged part of the historic Malek Theater grand marquee sign in Independence.

    Wind ripped off the left part of the marquee sign, which is located along 2nd Avenue.

    Half of the sign is now completely missing, leaving the people of Independence losing an iconic image.

    Luckily, the half that fell is still intact, and has been moved inside the theater.

    This building has been standing tall since 1946 making it a historic landmark for the city of Independence.

    In an instant, with the power of this storm a piece came crashing down.

    The theater has been closed for some time now. Now the owner, Anthony Fitz says this is just putting a delay in his plans down to re-open in the future.

    “I was just like in awe,” said Fitz. “Just kinda like wow, it was a surprise. It’s been old, something would’ve happened. But I didn’t think the whole side would fall down.”

    Fitz says he estimates the repair is going to cost around $50,000.

  • May 12, 2016

    Los Angeles, CA – Apple Store Opening in Downtown LA’s Historic Tower Theatre


    From Los Angeles Business Journal: Apple Inc. is in the in the process of securing a lease for retail space at the historic Tower Theater downtown, according to sources familiar with the transaction. When complete, the lease for an Apple store at the building, at 800 S. Broadway, could spark dramatic changes along a corridor that has long been in flux.

    “If you have a retailer like Apple that comes to Broadway, everyone else will follow,” said Jones Lang LaSalle agent Lorena Tomb. “It’s going to push rents up, and it’s going to change the entire street.”

    Terms of the deal could not be determined. Apple said it has not made any announcements about a store at that location. The brokerage reportedly representing Apple, Robert K. Futterman & Associates, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    The stretch of Broadway between First Street and Olympic Boulevard has roughly 250,000 square feet of vacant retail space, despite being populated recently by retailers such as Urban Outfitters, Gap Outlet, Acne Studios, and Oak. The presence of an Apple store could be the spark that reshapes the area.

  • July 7, 2015

    Richard Grell is the Thomas DuBuque Research Fellowship Winner


    THS is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2015 Thomas DuBuque Research Fellowship: Richard Grell.