Preservation Alert

  • February 7, 2017

    Columbus, IN – Awaiting an encore

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    From The Republic: Caretakers of the historic Crump Theatre, the iconic structure that has been mothballed for three years, continue to hold out hope that the right investor will arrive with a plan, a sustainable vision and an eye for restoration to bring the 127-year-old downtown theater back to life.

    “What I hope to find — how can I say this? — is a Crump angel,” said Hutch Schumaker, who leads the Columbus Capital Foundation.

    The foundation owns the building and works with the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County to keep it in stable condition while waiting for an investor who isn’t afraid of investing in basic mechanical upgrades and cosmetic work.

    “It’s one of those gems that if we allow it to go away, we’re never going to get something like that back,” Schumaker said.

  • February 1, 2017

    Highland, IN – Town Council cancels Town Theatre renovation

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    From nwitimes.com:
    The final curtain went down on the Town Theatre on Monday when the Town Council voted against a renovation of the long vacant building.

    A divided council voted 3-2 to reject a proposal, first made in 2014, to renovate and reopen the 71 year-old theater that was bought by the town in a county tax sale several years ago.

    Voting against the renovation were councilmen Mark Herak, I-2nd; Konnie Kuiper, D-2nd; and Council Vice president Steve Wagner, D-4th.

    Voting in favor were Councilman Bernie Zemen, D-1st and Council President Dan Vassar, D-3rd.

    The vote took place before a packed house of supporters and opponents.

    Because the proposal will never reach the drawing board, the historic building could soon face the wrecking ball because of its unsafe condition.

    The council’s vote instructed the Redevelopment Commission to cease all renovation efforts and seek contractor quotes to preserve the theater’s famous marquee and ticket booth.

    “The Town Theatre was not just about the theater,” Redevelopment Director Cecile Petro said. “It was to develop a district.”

  • January 31, 2017

    Menlo Park, CA – Menlo Park woman scrambles to shield cinema from developers

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    From The San Francisco Chronicle: Twice on Saturdays and twice on Sundays, Judy Adams walks from her Menlo Park home to the Guild Theatre on El Camino Real and back. She’s there when customers go into the old-time picture show and she’s there when they come out, but she doesn’t stay for the movie.

    Adams’ job, self-appointed and singularly motivated, is to get signatures for a petition to save the Guild, a single-screen cinema opened in 1926. It’s a heroic gesture considering that there is no indication the Guild is closing. But Landmark Theatres, which operates the Guild, is on a month-to-month lease, and the building may be for sale.

    Adams knows how this story ends, so she is taking “preemptive action,” she says, while standing in the cold of a January day last week before the 5 p.m. screening of “Manchester by the Sea.”

    “The goal is to get the city, Landmark Theatres and the owner talking about a way to keep a neighborhood theater and get it upgraded while keeping the charm of a small art house,” Adams says.

    If the Guild goes, so goes a long tradition of stand-alone movie theaters along the El Camino, the main commercial strip that connects all of the commuter towns that rose up alongside the tracks of the Southern Pacific line.

  • January 14, 2017

    Larchmont, NY – Petition Urges Regal Cinemas to Lift Restrictions on Larchmont Playhouse Purchase

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    From Larchmont Patch: An online petition trying to facilitate the reopening of the Larchmont Playhouse has been posted on change.org.

    According to a Larchmont resident, Ellen Zuckert, who has been leading the effort to save the movie house, Regal Cinemas can prevent future owners of the Playhouse from screening first-run films, making it nearly impossible to exist as a sustainable business, the Daily Voice said.

    Michael DiCosimo, a movie industry pro, signed a contract worth about $1.3 million last year to buy the iconic movie house on Palmer Avenue.

    In the petition, posted by Elizabeth Bradley of Larchmont, Regal became the owner of the Playhouse when it absorbed United Artists Cinema, and then sold it in 2015.

  • January 13, 2017

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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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

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    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.