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You sound very committed. Good luck on getting all the funds together. I underestimated two years ago when I said $250K would be needed. $500K would definitely put the movie theater back in operating mode and on the Cleveland citizenry’s movie going radar. I would love to see the theater opening in ‘07 with a 80th dedication event happening in '08. Keep me posted on the fund raising.
You have a tremendous idea which just might work! The investor group needs to have a realistic idea of what minimum renovation, and at what cost to the group!, would be needed to create a working movie theater showing film classics. If and during renovations and reopenings, have prior owners added or detracted to LaSalle’s appearance? Is the structure physically sound, and are there city code violations? How much would the 185th Street group and the city of Cleveland have to say in the use of the building? I’m sure the investment group has probably investigated these issues already, and I’m your on your way to reopening the theater in ‘07. Having lived in the area for nearly 30 years before heading out West, here’s a few things to keep in mind.
185th Street has plenty of local bars. I think there’s at least a dozen already. What’s one more right! Beer, professional drinkers, and darkness…..hmmmm Paying for extra security, annual liquor or beer licenses, and the beer cost itself could become a financial burden. Reopening the “Collossus” known as LaSalle will be a big task in itself without added financial pressures. If the group has contended with these local facts, great! All systems go!
Maybe do without the beer license initially, and see if the theater can draw locals, city people, and college age students through a dining and movie experience. I’ve seen it done in Chicago, but I believe they showed current releases. Beer and wine was available at the theater by the way. New releases with weekly one night film noir classic nights? Try looking at investor groups and theaters in other cities that renovated old theaters. What worked, and what didn’t….why? If the investment group is going to put even a minimal but substantial amount into the building, they will need some reasonable faith that your group’s plan has looked and presented to them a business plan that shows these theaters can make, over time, a profit. Also, 185th is not like Coventry Rd or Shaker Blvd. The business here are almost entirely local. Few people are drawn to 185th from outside the neighborhood. What motivation would citizens in Cuyahoga county, or even neighboring suburbs have in shopping, dining, entertaining (those bars offer one hope!), and ultimately coming to LaSalle. Nostalgic films will unlikely be enough to keep the theater open for more than a few showings. If your investment group and interested parties have done their homework, and are committed to handle some initial poor profits, then godspeed. A realistic plan with the help of the 185th business group and plenty of advertising might actually work. If and when you reopen the theater, please e-mail me for the event, and I will be there.
One of the co-owners of the building reponded to an e-mail I sent back in January of this year saying the building is still being used, and they were looking for new investors. They thought I might be a lead for new monied investment. Obviously the current owners are trying to keep the building from the wrecking ball. I’ve seen it used since 1990 for rock concerts, a classic car showcase, and who knows other than the owners for what other purpose. LaSalle is in a kind of limbo with no clear future in sight, and the building’s run down condition probably scares away any potential investors. Let’s hope the ownership finds someone soon.
I grew up on 185th St, and I attended many movies at La Salle. It is one of the few theaters that has an actual stage behind the screen and curtains. The theater is seldom used as mentioned above. The building is nearing a 100 years, but I don’t forsee it reaching that mark unless an investor is found, and it is put on the national register as a historic building. The interior and exterior need a complete overhaul similiar to the theater in Shaker Heights, OH on Shaker Blvd which would cost upwards of $250,000. What steps could be done to ensure the building is not razed? I really believe it is in jeapodary, and I would be saddened if no effort was made by citizens on 185th and the city of Cleveland to find potential buyers. In my mind, it is a treasure which Cleveland needs to keep.