Bay Area theater revival in the works

posted by Patrick Crowley on April 25, 2006 at 7:48 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In Sunday’s edition, the San Francisco Chronicle looked into the recent upswing of theater revivial projects in the Bay area:

Phil Tagami’s parents went on their first date in 1959 to Oakland’s Fox Theater, a gilded movie palace on Telegraph Avenue. In 1965, the venue closed, and for more than four decades it has been largely vacant, crumbling from neglect.

“It’s been shuttered for virtually my entire life,‘’ said Tagami, a 40-year-old developer who owns several buildings nearby and never had the opportunity to attend an event at the theater.

But now Oakland, which hired Tagami as a consultant, is spending millions to resurrect the 1928 vintage Fox, a step the city sees as key to bringing new life to a neighborhood — and city — in need of revitalization.

Oakland is one of a nearly a dozen Bay Area cities committing millions to theater restoration projects. They are dusting off old architectural relics — some dating back to vaudeville days — that closed and sat dormant after being damaged in earthquakes or made redundant by television, cineplexes and other entertainment options. Local officials, like their counterparts in cities across the nation, are betting that their investments will bring cultural capital to rundown neighborhoods, particularly downtowns, and spur economic activity.

(Thanks to CWalczak for this one!)

Comments (3)

Patsy on April 25, 2006 at 8:55 am

The ‘upswing of theatre revival projects’ is a great informative article that I have now passed onto friends who live in SF area!

Patsy on April 25, 2006 at 8:57 am

“……for more than four decades it has been largely vacant, crumbling from neglect.” I don’t like reading these words, but sometimes this happens to certain and it’s just too late for a revival.

JimRankin on April 25, 2006 at 7:13 pm

I too passed this on to the principal owner of the land under the long closed WARNER/GRAND in Milwaukee in hopes that he can use it to light a fire under the burghers of that very conservative city who are so notorious for holding onto their dollars that there has been a saying amoung advertising and marketing men nationwide that “If it sells in Milwaukee, it will sell anywhere!” Still, that city is now over half non-white and is rapidly changing as much as most American cities, so maybe the story of this article will soon be applicable to more cities — if the the people move before the theatres crumble beyond reasonable salvage, as Patsy brings out. Is anyone listening in the areas of the KINGS in Brooklyn or the UPTOWN in Chicago, to mention just two giant gems in their last days? I hope so, for the number of restorable movie palaces and 1960s single screen cinemas is declining rapidly with every passing week!

All readers of this, living in areas with notable theatres dieing the slow death, need to print out the article and mail it to their community leaders — the movers and shakers with the dollars and sense (as well as cents) to be able to do something. Don’t be shy; include at least a xerox or two of the theatre you are fighting for and a reminder of the value it could be today, and introduce the article as an inspiration in the vein of ‘If they all can do it, why can’t we?!!’

(Remember (if you print out the complete article) to change that term “blade” to the correct “Vertical sign” before you print it out. We don’t want to perpetuate ignorant slang which never does justice to its subject and encourages people to take a casual, dismissive attitude to theatres and their parts. Here is the URL to the complete article: )

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