Preservation Alert

  • January 13, 2017

    Cleveland, OH – With demolition permit, it looks like curtains for long-vacant Center Mayfield Theatre

    Image

    From Cleveland.com: Closing credits are rolling for the long-vacant Center Mayfield Theatre, with a demolition permit for the entire complex recently obtained by the owner.

    City Council learned of the plans Monday (Jan. 9) from Housing Programs Manager Allan Butler, who said that crews were already on site taking up the asphalt parking lot at the corner of Mayfield Road and Vandemar Street.

    Reached Tuesday, property owner Art Treuhaft said he’d driven by the complex the day before, but had “no idea where they are with the demolition.”

    Plans call for clearing the 1.5-to-2-acre site and putting it back on the market in February or March, Treuhaft said.

    The theater showed its last movie in 1996, although there were a succession of tenants since then, including a video rental shop and then briefly a liquor store.

    “Up to two or three years ago, it was fully occupied, with the exception of the auditorium,” Treuhaft said, adding that tenants have been vacating ever since.

    Councilwoman Mary Dunbar asked about architectural merits for the theater, opened in 1936, with the other storefronts being built in stages beginning in 1917.

    City preservation officials, who are working on a historic inventory of local commercial buildings, have toured the theater.

    While the Master Plan being drafted by the city with Cuyahoga County officials mentions continuing efforts to slow down the demolition process that has already been discussed for over a year.

  • January 4, 2017

    Anchorage, AK – Anchorage’s 4th Avenue Theatre gets its demolition permit, but owners say they won’t raze it

    Image

    From ADN.com: A demolition permit was issued for the historic downtown 4th Avenue Theatre last month after Anchorage’s building board ruled that city officials, citing historic preservation questions, erred in delaying the permit.

    In a 2-1 vote at a December hearing, the Board of Building Regulation Examiners and Appeals agreed last month with the theater’s owners, Peach Investments LLC, which said the city didn’t have grounds to deny the permit.

    Described by the theater’s owners as needed for routine maintenance, the demolition permit immediately became tangled up in a city effort to preserve historic buildings.

    City officials argued that Peach was never actually denied a permit, but that both parties agreed on Oct. 17 to research whether the building carried a conservation easement that would block any future owner from tearing it down. City attorneys later said it appeared the $300,000 the city paid for a conservation easement in 1985 was eliminated by a 1991 foreclosure — a point raised in the written appeal by Peach Investments to say the permit should have been issued.

    Kristine Bunnell, the city’s historic building officer, said she never believed Peach Investments intended to demolish the building. But she said that all historic properties listed on official registers have now been flagged in the city’s permit management computer system so a consultation would be triggered whenever an owner applied to demolish or change it.

    In the meantime, the Anchorage Assembly is weighing whether to adopt a “demolition delay” ordinance that would provide for a community dialogue before a historic building is torn down. The ordinance was fast-tracked in response to Peach Investments seeking the demolition permit for the theater.

  • December 14, 2016

    Lafayette, CA – Park Theater revitalization scrapped

    Image

    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.

  • December 12, 2016

    Wilmington, NC – Iconic downtown Wilmington structure faces demolition

    Image

    From foxwilmington.com: An iconic piece of downtown Wilmington may soon be gone. Thursday evening, the Historic Preservation Committee will consider a proposal to tear down the Bailey Theatre façade.

    The Bailey Theatre officially opened in December of 1940. At the time it was built, it was the largest theatre in the city and the only one that was air-conditioned. However, with the rapid changes in the community and the suburbanization of movie theatres, the Bailey Theatre was demolished in the 1980’s leaving only the façade and the marquee. The marquee was removed about 20 years ago when it was deemed to unsafe.

    What remains of the façade now has deteriorated very significantly. The city started a case against the property owner for failure to maintain the façade. The owner hired a structural engineer to look at what is remaining and they concluded that it is not feasible to save the façade. According to Wilmington Downtown Inc. President and CEO, Ed Wolverton, a significant amount of work would have to be done to save the structure.

    “Because of the way the materials are constructed, you would almost have to demolish the façade to save the façade,” Wolverton said.

    At the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) public hearing on Thursday evening, they will hear an appeal from the current property owner that says that he wishes to remove the building. By law, the HPC can then put a 365-day-stay on the property. In that time, the city, Wilmington Downtown Inc., and the HPC may come up with a way to incorporate the façade into a new project instead of demolishing it. However the HPC may tell the property owner that he has the right to remove the property right away.

    Many options have been proposed with what to do with the structure and the space. Among some of those options is retail space, an office building or a park. Historic Wilmington Foundation Executive Director George Edwards says he would love to see the structure incorporated into a park or a courtyard.

    “Although we would love to see it incorporated into a project, we don’t want to see it tacked onto the front of a building like an ornament,” Edwards said. “That’s not a preservation strategy.”

    The Bailey Theatre item will be addressed at the public hearing on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, 2nd floor, Thalian Hall, 102 North Third Street.

  • November 1, 2016

    New York, NY – Harlem’s protracted Victoria Theater redevelopment may move forward

    Image

    From Curbed NY: The long-stalled Victoria Theater redevelopment project in Harlem may finally be making some progress, the New York Post reports. Their reporter spotted a notice relating to “earthwork” at the site, which was posted there last month.

    The plan has undergone so many changes since it was announced over a decade, so it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually going on at the site right now. While this latest notice hasn’t yet appeared on the city’s Department of Buildings website, the most recent iteration of the plans call for a 26-story tower at the site with 200 rentals, half of which will be affordable, and a Renaissance by Marriott hotel.

    Plans call for the historic theater to be restored and incorporated into the tower. The most recent version of the plans were filed by developer Lam Group in October 2014, and demolition work at the site got underway in the summer of 2015. The progress since then however has been excruciatingly slow.

    This latest notice may be a sign of things moving forward, but no word yet on when the Aufgang Architects-designed building will actually be completed.

    Designed in 1917 by noted architect Thomas W. Lamb, the theater opened as the Loew’s Victoria Theater and could seat nearly 2,400 people. In the late 1980s the large auditorium was converted into multiple theaters, and it wasn’t until 2005 that redevelopment proposals were submitted for the site.

  • October 3, 2016

    San Jose, CA – Historic Century 21 theater’s future uncertain

    Image

    From The Mercury News: The future of the Century 21 dome is as unclear as ever, with the San Jose City Council deciding not to shut the door on the possibility of stripping the city landmark down to its steel structure.

    That idea, you’ll recall, was part of Federal Realty’s proposal for Santana West, a commercial and office development that is planned for the site of the dome movie theaters on Winchester Boulevard. The bones of the theater would become part of an open space area on the privately-held property.

    When the council certified the development’s environmental impact report, it included a statement overriding city staff’s recommendation and allowing consideration of modifications to the theater — including those that would eliminate the historic characteristics that qualified the theater for the National Register of Historic Places.

    Any modifications would still have to come back to the city council for approval, but given that Councilmen Don Rocha and Ash Kalra were the only ones defending the theater, it’s hard to imagine Mayor Sam Liccardo and the others not backing Federal Realty’s plans in the absence of a good alternative.

  • September 1, 2016

    Norwalk, CT – Aquarium visitors fear potential closing of IMAX Theater

    Image

    From The Hour: Standing outside the entrance to the IMAX Theater on Monday afternoon, the Rivas family of Warwick, N.Y., viewed display boards showing marine life in Long Island Sound and beyond.

    Victor M. Rivas described the theater as part of the educational experience when visiting The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk.

    “We do like the theater. It’s because it’s attached to the Aquarium and because of what they’re showing,” Rivas said. “The theater always has something to offer, something interesting — not to mention my daughter is really interested in ocean life.”

    A source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Hearst Connecticut Media that the state Department of Transportation is in negotiations to take the IMAX Theater to facilitate replacement of the bridge.

    Rivas expressed surprised upon learning about the possibility.

    “It doesn’t make any sense if it’s a staging area,” Rivas said. “The staging area could be moved. It could be put somewhere else if that’s the case.”

    The 120-year-old railway bridge bisects the Aquarium, separating the animal exhibits from the theater. The bridge has failed to open and close properly on numerous occasions over the last two years. The DOT is moving forward to replace the bridge. Preliminary work, such as test borings, are already underway for the estimated $1 billion project that is slated to begin in mid-2018.

    The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk/IMAX Theater is Norwalk’s biggest tourist attraction. Since opening in 1988, the Aquarium now draws up to 500,000 visitors annually to its 34 exhibits with 1,200 marine animals.

    Visitors come from Norwalk and throughout the region. A number of out-of-town visitors said Monday that they were unaware of the upcoming bridge replacement even as trains rumbled across the bridge outside.

    To get from the Aquarium exhibits to the IMAX Theater, visitors must walk through a short tunnel. Along the tunnel walls are posters advertising a selection of movies that have played in the theater over the years.

    Margie Basil, a New Jersey resident, waited with her granddaughter Mackenzie McGonigle of Norwalk to enter the 310-seat theater. Offerings included “National Parks Adventures,” “Born To Be Wild,” “Flight of the Butterflies,” “A Beautiful Planet” and “Humpback Whales.”

    “I’m taking her here today to see ‘A Beautiful Planet’ at the IMAX and to go through the Aquarium,” Basil said. “We’re very surprised to find out that there might be some type of interruption because of the bridge. I am very annoyed about the whole situation.”

    DOT spokesman Judd Everhart said Friday that the department is in discussions about the impacts of the bridge replacement on the Aquarium and the IMAX Theater. He reminded that both attractions are located on property owned by the city of Norwalk.

    “I can’t say today when a decision will be made,” Everhart said when asked about the fate of the theater.

    In an effort to keep the public informed about the Walk Bridge replacement, the DOT has created a website (walkbridgect.com) and held public information meetings. An open house was held Aug. 16 in the lobby of the IMAX Theater. The department has placed at the entrance to the theater a standing sign with small display board explaining the project.

    Sigworth said the Aquarium is preparing for how the bridge replacement will impact the animal exhibits and theater. For now, it’s business as usual for visitors. He said the Aquarium is following it normal practices. As such, the Aquarium has booked movies for the theater through June 2017 and continues to market the Aquarium to school districts through the region, he said.

    “If they want to start planning their field trips for next April, they know what movies are going to be playing,” Sigworth said. “You have to sign contracts with these movie distributors so we know what we’re showing into next summer.”

    Sigworth estimated that about a thousands visitors walked through the doors of the Aquarium on Monday, including many children who stepped into the “Giant Walk-In Whale” or the ‘Flutter Zone’ walk-through butterfly exhibit. Both run through Labor Day.

    A good number of visitors also made their way to the IMAX Theater. The Aquarium offers a package deal. For $22.95, adults can visit both the Aquarium and IMAX Theater. The cost is $20.95 for teenagers and senior citizens and $15.95 for children aged three to 12.

    “You get an IMAX movie with your admission ticket,” Sigworth said. “So you just basically come in and just pick which movie you want to see. Most everyone takes advantage of it.”

  • August 30, 2016

    Baltimore, MD – Major work planned to preserve historic Mayfair Theater’s facade

    Image

    From foxbaltimore.com: A nonprofit agency in Baltimore is working to save a piece of the past along Howard Street for future generations.

    The Baltimore Development Corporation, a nonprofit economic development agency in the city, has been working on the area around the former Mayfair Theater at the edge of the Mt. Vernon neighborhood.

  • August 26, 2016

    Las Vegas, NV – State, Huntridge Theater Owner Settling Suit Over Historic Venue

    Image

    From Nevada Public Radio: The state of Nevada and the owner of the Huntridge Theater are settling a lawsuit that complicated efforts to restore the east Charleston Boulevard landmark.

    In 2014, the state of Nevada sued Huntridge owner Eli Mizrachi, contending he failed to protect the building, a condition that came with his purchase of the state-designated historic site.

    The proposed settlement halves $750,000 sought by the state and gives Mizrachi the opportunity to avoid any payment if he makes improvements to the building and makes it a usable building where events are held several times a year.

    The deal also extends for 12 years restrictions on what he can do with the property.

    The state Commission on Cultural Centers and Historic Preservation votes on the matter this week.

    Heidi Swank is a Nevada assemblywoman and the CEO of the Nevada Preservation Foundation. She told KNPR’s State of Nevada that she thinks it’s a good compromise.

    “I think that’s really the big thing that the community and the state wants to see is to not have this important building to our community just sitting there empty in disrepair not functioning,” she said, “This I think it provides both a carrot and a stick to get us where we want to be with that building.”

    The Huntridge opened in 1944 as a glittering example of streamline modern architecture at the eastern outskirts of a town of 15,000.

  • August 5, 2016

    Robbinsdale, MN – Robbinsdale to consider fate of Terrace Theater

    Image

    From MPR News: The Robbinsdale City Council will consider the future of the historic Terrace Theater at its meeting Monday night.

    The venue has been closed since the late ‘90s. But when it was built in 1951, it was considered one of the most luxurious theaters in the country. It catered to movie-goers not only from around the metro, but from all over the country and abroad.

    Robbinsdale is now considering demolishing the building to make way for a new grocery store and other development. MPR’s Cathy Wurzer spoke with David Leonhardt, who chairs a local group that’s come together to fight that vision.