Preservation Alert

  • August 28, 2017

    Laconia, NH – Drive-in movie theater in New Hampshire to be sold, condos proposed

    Image

    From Boston.com: One of New Hampshire’s last drive-in movie theaters is going to be sold for $2.5 million to a businessman with plans for condominiums and commercial development in its place.

    The Laconia Sun reports Patricia Baldi has owned the Weirs Drive-In since 1974. She said the land is more valuable than the business, which is open about 12 weeks a year.

    Al Mitchell, the buyer, owns properties in the area. He hopes to build up to 80 condominium units, an event center, a hotel and other businesses. He said he hopes to create the kind of attractive and successful commercial and tourism community that took place in Meredith in the 1980s.

    The Weirs Drive-In was built in 1948. Baldi said her son, Larry, plans to open another drive-in theater elsewhere.

  • August 22, 2017

    Los Angeles, CA – Historic Westlake Theatre next to MacArthur Park is for sale

    Image

    From CurbedLA.com: Once poised for a revival and a mixed-use makeover, the landmark Westlake Theatre is now for sale.

    The seller? CRA/LA, the successor agency to the defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles, which was dissolved under a 2011 state law. CRA/LA is tasked with winding down the business of the former redevelopment agency, and it’s looking to unload the historic venue—recognizable for its steel-framed rooftop neon sign—after failing to find a developer willing to partner on the redevelopment.

    In 2016, it issued a request for proposals to rehab the theater and possibly build affordable housing and retail on four neighboring parcels. The goal was to make the area “an attractive regional arts and culture and entertainment destination … while offering employment, housing, education / institutional use and other services.”

    But the request for proposals went unanswered, says Jimmy Chai, a broker with the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, which is marketing the property for CRA/LA.

  • Berkeley, CA – Plans develop to convert Oaks Theatre into climbing gym

    Image

    From The Daily Californian: As popular streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc.) saturate the market, it can be difficult — or even impossible — for a local movie theater to turn a profit.

    The Oaks Theatre is likely a familiar landmark to pedestrians who frequent Berkeley’s Solano Avenue, with its classic marquee hovering above the sidewalk and vertical signboard visible from more than a block away.

    On paper, the theater sounds like a magnet for activity. The 21,578-square-foot building, constructed in 1925, can host approximately 1,000 people between its two screens. Coffee shops, eateries, specialty stores and residences surround the venue, encouraging a steady stream of foot traffic through the area.

    But the Oaks Theatre has sat empty since 2010, after the Metropolitan Theaters Corporation concluded its operations there. Its marquee is entirely blank — save for a smaller sign, advertising its sale by Gordon Commercial Real Estate Services for $4.25 million.

    On Aug. 15, city councilmember Sophie Hahn announced in a press release that a contract has been developed for the theater to be sold to Touchstone Climbing — which, as of now, intends to convert the movie theater into a climbing gym. The details of the project, however, are not yet set in stone.

  • July 25, 2017

    Flushing, Queens, NY: After three decades, work finally begins on redeveloping historic Flushing theater

    Image

    From Crain’s New York: Xinyuan Real Estate has started work on a Flushing, Queens, condo project being built around the RKO Keith’s Theater, a partially landmarked historic building that has gone through numerous owners and failed development attempts for decades.

    The Chinese company, which recently completed a condo project on the Brooklyn waterfront called the Oosten, has selected Gilbane Building Co. as the contractor, according to permits filed with the Department of Buildings.

    Xinyuan said that the project is moving forward on schedule, which according to documents submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission this spring, indicates that it is safeguarding and preserving the landmarked portions of the theater, which include the grand foyer and ticketing lobby. It then plans to shore up parts of the foundation supporting these areas before razing the rest of the building sometime this fall. The company is aiming to complete the project in 2020.

  • May 19, 2017

    Flushing, Queens, NY – Landmarks approves plans to disassemble RKO Keith’s Flushing Theater’s historic interiors

    Image

    From 6sqft.com: In a rare case, the RKO Keith’s Flushing Theater is an interior landmark, but the building it’s inside is not landmarked. Built in 1928 to the designs of noted theater architect Thomas Lamb, the elaborately ornamented Churrigueresque-style movie palace has sat decrepit for the past three decades, until Chinese firm Xinyuan Real Estate (they’re also behind Williamsburg’s Oosten condo and the forthcoming Hell’s Kitchen condo that will be anchored by a Target) bought the vacant theater for $66 million last year with plans to develop it into a 269-unit luxury condo. Moving ahead with this vision, they’ve tapped Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and preservation specialists Ayon Studio to erect a 16-story glass tower at the site, which includes plans to “enclose the interior landmark, and to disassemble, restore off-site, and reinstall salvaged ornamental plasterwork and woodwork and replicas” in a new residential lobby. Despite some opposition from the Historic Districts Council (HDC) regarding public accessibility, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted in favor of the plan, congratulating the architects and expressing great admiration for their design.

  • May 9, 2017

    La Puente, CA – La Puente’s Star Theatre could be headed for demolition. Here’s why activists are trying to save it.

    Image

    From the San Gabriel Valley Tribune News: Every night, Danielle Gonzalez makes a point to drive by the Star Theatre.

    The 27-year-old La Puente resident said she finds comfort in the fact that the theater, though infamous for showing pornographic movies from the 1970s to the 1990s, still stands.

    Despite its seedy past, the 1940s-era building, a barrel-shaped structure stretching across the full length of its block at the edge of downtown La Puente, is historically and architecturally significant, Gonzalez said.

    “It’s more of the visual aesthetic, ‘Hey this is La Puente,’” she said. “It may not be 100 percent perfect or beautiful, but it’s still our history.”

    The city may soon lose that piece of history — the new owners of the theater at 145 N. 1st St. are working on a plan to demolish the building and develop condominiums on the site.

    Linda Young, of Star Theatre LLC, which purchased the building from its previous owner in April 2016, said the building has fallen into disrepair and would need extensive work to bring it up to code.

    “I want to keep it also, but there are so many problems there,” Young said by phone last week. “There’s no way we can keep it.”

    Designed in the late 1940s by renowned theater architect S. Charles Lee, the Star is one of five theaters designed by Lee using a lamella roof form, a vaulted roof made up of crisscrossing arches. Lee’s La Puente theater is significant because it is the only one lacking a rectangular facade that conceals the barrel shape of the auditorium from the street, according to Marcello Vavala, a preservation associate at the Los Angeles Conservancy.

    Vavala said the La Puente theater is an example of Lee experimenting with building types unusual for movie theaters.

    “The lamella roof form is mostly used for industrial warehouses,” he said.

    That’s why Gonzalez, a board member for the local nonprofit Arteologists, hopes to convince the city and the owner not to demolish the theater and instead renovate the building and repurpose it as a venue for community performances, art therapy and movie screenings.

    “It’s not like it’s actually going to benefit the city to build more condos, especially not down there,” said Gonzalez, who plans to address the City Council during its regular meeting today.

  • April 27, 2017

    Auburn, NY – Auburn to Schine Theater owners: Fix it or demolish it

    Image

    From Syracuse.com: The city of Auburn has declared the nostalgic Schine Theater unsafe and has ordered its non-profit owners to repair or demolish it.

    The order is one of a series of orders the city send recently to owners of vacant property, said Edward Onori, chairman of the Cayuga County Arts Council, which owns the theater at 16 South Street.

    Onori said the citation will have little effect on its work with the city to restore the old building. “This is just to get us to the table to do something there,” he said.

    The arts council is applying for grants to restore the building, Onori said.

    The city’s Code Enforcement Officer Lane Pausley told The Citizen that the Schine did not have any specific violations, but that the order was prompted by 25 to 30 years of “non use and disrepair.”

  • Philadelphia, PA – North Broad Investments, a Historic Preservation Taskforce and the Uptown Theater

    Image

    From GoodMenProject.com: here’s been an attempt, in one form or another, to revitalize the Uptown Theater in North Philadelphia since the late 1980s, yet to no real avail, despite it being spacious, well-constructed and rich in historic value, black history in particular. If the now crumbling walls at 2240 N. Broad Street could talk, they’d tell stories of a magical 16th birthday party for Mr. Stevie Wonder; Mr. Earl Young, the drummer whose chops are heard on classic recordings, like ‘Disco Inferno,’ receiving informal tutorials on music theory; classic battles of the bands featuring super-groups like The Temptations and the Four Tops; and even an unconventional church who was displaced by a massive winter storm.

  • March 24, 2017

    Las Vegas, NV – Assembly Democrats want to save historic Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas

    Image

    From the Las Vegas Review-Journal: Two Nevada Assembly members want to take another stab at saving the Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas.

    Democrats Heidi Swank and Elliot Anderson of Las Vegas introduced a bill Monday seeking $3 million for the Division of State Lands to purchase the shuttered theater near downtown Las Vegas.

  • March 20, 2017

    Fairfield, CT – Petition pushes to re-open town’s Community Theatre

    Image

    From the Fairfield Citizen: The First Selectman tried, unsuccessfully, a few years ago to nudge the owner of the Fairfield Community Theatre to make a deal with a developer, so the shuttered movie house could be reopened. Now, Keith Rhodes, a member of the Economic Development Commission, has started an online petition, seeking to put pressure on owner David Pollack. In just a matter of hours Monday, Rhodes’ change.org petition had surpassed the initial 500 signature goal. As of Thursday that goal is now at 5,000 and over 3,300 people have signed the petition. “As evidenced by the groundswell of support, I am very confident that David Pollack and the Pollack Family Trust will do the right thing here and allow the town of Fairfield to finally broker a deal with the many interested property developers and other groups,” Rhodes said. “It is my understanding that all attempts of town diplomacy have failed, even at the highest levels.” The theater, and its marquee is an iconic part of the downtown. It was run as a non-profit foundation for about 10 years, but the group’s founder, Leo Redgate, was hesitant to raise the money needed to make needed repairs, without a long-term lease or purchase agreement. “The truth is that the entire Fairfield community is tired of the sad sight of the once vibrant Fairfield Community Theatre in the center of our proud town,” Rhodes said. “There is so much potential, and as a long-time town resident, father of two and a member of the town’s Economic Development Commission, I wanted to do something about it.” Community and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said the town shares the same goal in seeing the theater restored and re-opened. “The petition shows, that even after being closed for more than five years, there is a strong affinity for the Community Theater and frustration with the apparent lack of progress,” Barnhart said. “I have seen some hopeful signs as of late, as David has stated a willingness to sell the property, though, clearly, things are not moving as quickly as anyone would like.” Barnhart said he remains in touch with Pollack, and his broker, and will continue to provide whatever assistance he can to facilitate the sale of the property. Calls to Pollack were not returned. “The town’s goal is to create a beautiful, multipurpose performing arts center for children, students and parents alike,” Rhodes said. “To date, David Pollack has refused to sell the property, and the theater just sits there in disrepair.” The 100-year-old theater is about 8,000 square feet and seats 700.