March 25, 2010
BALTIMORE, MD — I would like to give Cinema Treasures readers an update on the status of the iconic Senator Theatre.
The notoriously anti-preservation Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) is now putting The Senator Theatre through an RFP process that will determine the theatre’s future. They have repeatedly refused to involve objective, experienced historic theater redevelopment professionals and film exhibition experts in guiding the process. They did briefly consult John Bell from the Tampa Theatre with a short list of questions by email (Bell was not allowed to see the 2 proposals under consideration), and after they received Bell’s advice, they appeared poised to do the opposite of what his advice would indicate.
I was on the BDC’s advisory panel, and attended secret meetings about the RFP process, so I have access to information that has not been made public. I resigned in protest from the panel, due to the BDC’s repeated refusals to bring historic theater redevelopment and film exhibition experts into the process.
March 22, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Since 1923, one of San Francisco’s jewels and once a roadshow house, the Egyptian-themed Alexandria Theatre is being allowed to deteriorate and become a home for transients due to stalled redevelopment plans and slow building code enforcement by the city. Although the plans submitted by the theater’s foreign owners include a 250 seat theater (in a building that once sat five times that number), most of the space would be converted to residential and retail use.
Meanwhile, a city loophole has allowed the blight to continue without anyone being held responsible or penalized.
Delays in cleaning the property and developing a more viable use for the space are partly due to economic hardships, as well as a disconnect between city planners and Alexandria Enterprises LLC — the building’s foreign owners — said Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents the district in which the theater is located.
Read the whole story in the San Francisco Examiner.
March 17, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, IL — As you know the Champaign Park District owns the historic Virginia Theatre. The Champaign Park District is dedicated to restoring it to it’s original appearance. In the summer of 2010 the are planing on demolishing the current 60 year old marquee and replacing it with a false replica of the Virginia’s 1920’s marquee. The Virginia’s marquee should be preserved and replacing the current marquee would be historicism.
Plans call for the new replicated marquee to have LED. Back in the 1950’s the RKO circuit owned the theatre and installed this historic marquee. The RKO circuit owned the Virginia and the Orpheum on Neil Street for a while. Not many historic theatres have 60 year old marquees. We can’t just watch another one bite the dust! We have to step in and tell the Champaign Park District that we want to keep this historic marquee for many years to come. Save this 60 year old marquee!
Contact the Champaign Park District at 217-398-2550
Locate them at 706 Kenwood Road, Champaign IL 61821
February 15, 2010
BINGHAMTON, NY — The Stone Opera House, which opened in 1892 and which operated as a movie house from 1930 to 1978 as the Riviera Theatre, has been named to the annual list of most endangered historic resources by the Preservation League of New York State. The inclusion of the theater on the list will permit the League to work with local officials and other agencies in the effort to restore and reuse the theater.
As movie theater crowds diminished with the growing popularity of television, Binghamton’s theaters closed, many to be torn down. The Stone Opera House shut its doors in 1978. While the ground floor commercial space has been occupied sporadically, the theater has been largely vacant for three decades.
“Seven to Save designation has a proven record of mobilizing community leaders and decision-makers to take action when historic resources are threatened,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. “Through this program, we provide targeted support to seven of New York’s most important and endangered historic resources, which are threatened by insensitive, ineffective or insufficient public policies, general neglect, and, in some cases, outright demolition.”
The Preservation League will help municipal and non-profit leaders seek an appropriate and sustainable reuse for the Stone Opera House, which could boost Binghamton’s ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.
There is more at Newschannel 34.
February 1, 2010
CAPE MAY, NJ — Preservationists have won a round to save the Beach Theatre. After a lengthy meeting, the Historic Preservation Commission voted against issuing an appropriateness certificate that would have allowed the theater’s auditorium to be demolished. The theater’s owner, Frank Theatres, is vowing to take the fight to demolish the theater to the Superior Court; a foundation that wants to buy and preserve the theater claims the asking price set by the Franks is is far above the property’s market value.
Frank said he was prepared to go beyond the zoning board to Superior Court if the zoning board does not overturn HPC’s decision. He said when he purchased the Beach Theatre in 1986, there were no restrictions.
Frank said to have restrictions imposed at a later date was tantamount to a taking of his property and a taking of his rights. He said a theater was not the highest and best use of that property.
“If the goal was to have a movie theater, they have lost that possibility in today’s forum with our company,” said Frank. He asked what would the Beach Theatre look like five to 10 years from now. “If the theater remains like it is and is closed, what did you do as a member of the board?” Frank asked. “You’re left an antiquated and old building.”
Read more in the Cape May County Herald.
January 26, 2010
FAIRMONT, WV — Time may be running out for the Fairmont Theater on Adams Street, as the whole block of which the theater is a part is being eyed as the site for a new state office building. Now closed, the 1940s-era theater last operated as a triplex.
The plan would be to tear down the entire block and build a brand new office.
This location would bring about 250 state jobs back into downtown, it would clean up some of the vacant and run-down buildings in the city, and it would promote use of the parking garage, county commissioners said. However, officials are still in negotiations with some of the property owners on that block.
There’s more in the State Journal.
January 22, 2010
PASSAIC, NJ — The historic Montauk Theater seems to be set to be torn down. In most recent years it was a xxx house, and although extremly dirty, was said to be intact.
A number of years ago a man who runs movie theatres in Northern New Jersey, offered to buy it from the city. The idea was to keep the balcony area as a divided movie theatre, and turn the downstairs into a performing arts center, with a theatre pipe organ possibly controlled by the main console of the former Roxy Theatre console.
This whole idea came to nothing, as the city of Passaic said it needed the building for retail space. If one were to look around the city, there is more than enough empty retail space, so this is ridiculous. It has been reported that a huge stained glass window with the letter M survives. The theatre once had a theatre organ by the local firm of Griffith Beach. Passaic has never been the same since they took out the railroad from downtown. I will update when new info is available.
January 15, 2010
December 29, 2009
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA — After years of planning and advocacy, the Pantages Theatre Arts Society is giving up on its efforts to save the 1907 Pantages Theatre (the first built by Alexander Pantages), citing the lack of support from government agencies. Heritage Vancouver is urging a letter writing campaign to encourage the City Council to take action as no developer proposal to-date will preserve the theater.
A “For Sale” sign has gone up on the Pantages. This is the signal that the current owner has been unable to come to an agreement with the city to restore the theatre after three years of planning and negotiations. Given the nature of Vancouver’s real estate climate and lack of heritage protection, if sold for development, this will likely mean the demolition of the Pantages theatre.
More information in Heritage Vancouver.
November 25, 2009
RIDGEWOOD, NY — In March 2009, the shuttered Ridgewood Theatre (55-27 Myrtle Ave) was granted a public hearing by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, to determine its eligibility as a NYC Individual Landmak (facade): http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/downloads/pdf/press/09-03_lpc_to_hear_5_designation_proposals.pdf Patrons, preservation & cultural groups, and residents citywide were delighted. Testimony was diverse and positive, and also included written testimony from the Thomas A. Lamb, the great-grandson of America’s foremost theater architect, Thomas W. Lamb, who designed the Ridgewood Theatre in 1916 in the Classical Revival style. The Ridgewood Theatre was boasted as “America’s longest continuously operating first-run theater” when it closed suddenly in March 2008. Shortly after, Michael Perlman, Queens VP of the Four Borough Preservation Alliance Corp, organized the Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre group, serving as Chairman.