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Jamie, don’t go inside the Walgreens, you’ll be sad. Dropped ceilings, florescent lighting, vinyl tile floors – nothing left of the theatre interior. The Elm sign and a few other bits of memorabilia are just inside the vestibule. Like stuffing and mounting one’s kill after a hunt. Creepy.
Roger, you’ve been tireless in documenting, encouraging and assisting in the effort to save the theater. Glad it was you that gave the pictures. I understand and agree why you did it.
I just wish it weren’t pictures and memories, but a vibrant and vital part of the community fabric. We lost something good here, folks, and added to the drive-up, drive-by atmosphere of our neighborhood.
If you really want to wallow in “what coulda/shoulda,” just go inside as far the entry vestibule to see the “shrine” Walgreens has created with the lit neon Elm sign and other bits of our demolished gem.
When one of our town councilors saw it she gushed about how sensitive Walgreens was to the neighborhood and its past.
Shel B – yes, please, the Save the Elm group would love copies. Please contact us at www.elmwoodrenaissance.org
Dean – If you go to the “Save the Elm” website, www.savetheelm.org, you can send an e-mail to the folks who fought this battle. They should be able to help youwith your paper.
Yes, we lost the war.
At every step in the legal process the court found our case to be a zoning issue and, since no-one lives within 100 feet of the Theater (the legal measurement of “standing” to sue) we were unable to convince them to listen.
We were actually contesting an administrative decision by the Town’s Assessor, as any taxpayer should be able to do. She inappropriately undervalued the property (bypassing the Ordinance that would have prevented this type of development), saying that the property would be worth several hundred thousand dollars less after demo/reno and installation of a money-making Walgreens than when the developer bought it, empty and derelict. Go figure.
The developer won. The arts lost. Old, sad story.
Thanks, Roger, we’ll try working with the Family on the pictures. Check our website, www.elmwoodrenaissance.org, toward the end of next week. We have a strategy meeting on Tuesday and will have ideas for action by the end of the week. If you’d like to attend the strategy session, the more “heads”, the better! Anyone, contact me at
Folks, a history and some replies – The Perakos family reached out to the Town in 1999(?) to ask for a bilateral effort to solve traffic problems on a tricky corner to restimulate commercial growth, was ignored, went out of business. The current developer has built many “standard” Walgreens buildings and would have found it much more profitable (and Walgreens would have preferred) to demo and build a standard Walgreens building. The Town insisted they keep the theatre (yay, Town). The developer presented an alternative plan for the exterior (add, build out closer to the street)that more closely followed the Traditional Neighborhood Design Ordinance passed in 1998 for Elmwood, was turned down. (The local Historic authority issued a letter that the exterior of the building was worth preserving, not the interior. Ignored the balcony, staircases, 50-style fixtures, etc. and the ability to move the marquee and aluminum facade closer to the street. The rest of the building is a big, brick slab.) We believe that the “gutting” has been minimal (due to our speedy court actions), consising of removal of the chairs and, perhaps, a wall or two. We hope the balcony and stairs have not been touched.
The Elmwood Renaissance has held up the Town’s administrative approval of the “Walgreens Project” in court for the last year. We have been unable to present data that proves the Town undervalued the property (thereby bypassing the TND Ordinance) to any authority due to legal maneuvering. We are hoping that our “Save the Elm” campaign generates interest in the community to re-populate this theater and shopping area with arts-related tenants. Sadly, we’ve found that a lot of our neighbors still don’t know about the pending Walgreens! Our website will be updated in the next week as we develop our strategy for this informational and fundraising campaign.
Are there any pictures of the interior of the Elm? (Other than the ticket area shots on the website mentioned above.) We’d like to be able to show interested parties what the theater looked like in its heyday, before and after it was divided into two screens.
Glad to see all the “hits” in reply to my posting – it’s interest like this that will save this building.
Join the “Save the Elm” campaign by logging on to our website, “elmwoodrenaissance.org”. This theatre is a local treasure and an arts resource worth saving. Let’s recycle this for the local arts scene. It should not join the long list of sites that have been lost due to short-sighted commercial development.