• September 21, 2016

    Somers Point, NJ - Show not over for Gateway Playhouse renovations


    From the Press of Atlantic City: In the years since the city took over the Gateway Playhouse, work on renovating the heart of the 116-year-old Bay Avenue landmark has hit a dramatic, and extended, pause.

    The building’s interior still looked Friday just about like it did since at least 2010, basically torn down to bare studs without a seat or a stage in sight.

    But work is finally ready to start back up after the city, which bought the building in late 2006, awarded a contract to a Vineland company to finish the inside of the theater. Capri Construction is scheduled to start work in early October, although Somers Point’s city administrator, Wes Swain, said Friday that the company could get moving on the project as soon as this month. The target date for finishing the job is April, Swain added.

    That would be a pleasant plot development to Mayor Jack Glasser, who has dealt with delays and drama at the Gateway almost since he was elected in 2007. The mayor sees a redone theater improving Somers Point’s economic life almost as much as it does the area’s cultural life.

    “In the summer, we have our beach concerts right across the street, and look how many people come to those,” he said of the Friday music series that, on big nights, can fill most of a block of Bay Avenue with beach chairs and blankets full of music lovers.

    The renovations are being funded largely by two state grants, including $400,000 from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and $102,000 from the New Jersey Historic Trust.

    Jim Dalfonso heads the Theater Collaborative of South Jersey, a nonprofit group that’s worked for years to raise money to restore the Gateway. He said the group has research showing that even a “light season” at the 240-seat theater should bring 16,000 customers to Bay Avenue, one of the city’s business hubs.

    “Those folks are going to want to go out and eat. Parents are going to want to go shopping while their kids are in (rehearsals),” Dalfonso said, plus the renovation plans include meeting rooms in the theater that will be available for use when there aren’t performances going on. The theater’s supporters expect those accommodations to be a draw, too.

    “People from all over our area seem to think that Somers Point is a place that’s easy to go to. Folks will come up from Cape May, people will come over from Margate” and other places, he said. “This building’s audience base has historically drawn from a wide area.”

    Dalfonso, a music major who sells ceiling materials in his day job, knows the outside of the Gateway looks much better than it did when the city bought the onetime movie theater about 10 years ago.

    “The siding was put up three or four years ago,” a new Gateway marquee was added along Bay Avenue in the fall of 2013 and a new roof protects the inside, he said. “We got the exterior of the building done, and then the city applied for the grants and we had to halt construction on the rest of the building.”

    And since then, he added, “Absolutely nothing has been done.”

    But the city has been pursuing the money needed to do the work, and making sure it has enough to do the job right.

  • September 20, 2016

    Sausalito, CA - Plan unveiled for Sausalito movie theater revamp


    From A plan unveiled for Sausalito’s shuttered movie house is good news for city film fans — two theaters are part of the new design, as is a restaurant and upstairs office space for the Caledonia Street building.

    Operations at the old CineArts Marin in the city’s downtown wound down in January after Texas-based Cinemark Holdings Inc. informed the building’s owners in late 2015 it will not renew its lease, citing poor attendance.

    Sausalito Mayor Jill Hoffman formed a committee made up of residents, local business owners and city staff to work with the property owner to find ways to keep a theater at the location. The work appears to have paid off.

    Now the design is going through the city process. The Historical Landmarks Board signed off on changes to the 14,000-square-foot building that was constructed in 1909. Next up is the Planning Commission on Oct. 5.

    The new plan includes a restaurant and two theaters on the first floor. There had been three screens before.

    One of the theaters would be set up to accommodate live performances and lectures, Bruce Huff, property manager, told the City Council Tuesday.

    The larger theater would have about 75 seats and the smaller theater roughly 50. The seats would be plush, reclining and have more space for patrons. The movie theater rooms would show first-run and art films.

    Offices would go in a second floor that had been used mostly for storage. Glass walls would be used around part of the restaurant and the building would be veiled in timbers, conjuring up images of the city’s waterfront and ships.

    “It’s a design that adds to vibrancy and life of Caledonia Street,” Huff told the council as part of an informational hearing. He added that parking was available within a short walk of the building.

    A theater and a restaurant operator have been identified by the building’s owners, but will not be named until the building work gets city approvals.

    “We are right in the middle of this process,” said James To, the building’s owner. “We understand there is still a long way to go. We are looking forward to any feedback from the community, council members and the Planning Commission have for us.”

    The original style of the building was Mission Revival. The building was constructed as the Tamalpais Pavilion with the ground floor serving as a garage to the hall above, according to the Historical Landmarks Board.

    The structure may also have functioned initially as a livery stable with openings for a hay loft uncovered at the rear of the structure on the second floor. It was an automobile repair shop with a ramp from the first floor to the second floor allowing for car parking, according to the Historical Landmarks Board’s history.

  • September 19, 2016

    Nampa, ID - Pix Theatre’s new owner has big dreams


    From the Idaho Press-Tribune:
    The interior of the historic Pix Theatre in downtown Nampa is stripped bare and empty, save for some old promotional materials, construction equipment and a few piles of dirt.

    Debbie Lasher-Hardy, a local real estate professional who bought the 70-year-old Pix in February for an undisclosed sum, appears to see it like an artist would a blank canvas with a history.

    “It’s dear to my heart,” Lasher-Hardy said. “It was a theater that I group up with and attended.”

    She realized she wanted to buy the Pix two years ago, she said.

    “Every time that I would drive by and see that nothing had happened yet, I felt that it was my mission to make this thing happen,” Lasher-Hardy said. “And I know a lot of people in this community — worked with a lot — and I’m just going to reach out to them and ask them to come in and help, basically.”

    Lasher-Hardy came on the scene on the heels of the nonprofit foundation that struggled for years to revive the downtown building.

    The Pix Theatre Foundation was raising the $1.5 million necessary to revive the Pix when the roof collapsed in 2003. The roof was replaced in 2006, and from there the board members struggled to break even with fundraising costs, insurance, taxes and other expenses.

    By December 2014, the foundation board members said the project needed new leadership and indicated a desire to sell the theater.

    “We’re tired,” Pix Theatre Foundation President Debra Lindner said prior to stepping down. “We’ve done everything. We’ve been the committee heads. We’ve done the fundraising. We’ve gone down with a shovel and shoveled dirt. And we’ve wanted to. We’re not sorry about it, but people can only do so much for so long. We just need a boost. If the community speaks and wants this theater to be complete, now is the time for people to come forward and help it happen.”

    Lasher-Hardy said some of the former board members are interested in being involved again, and she is considering what role they will play as she puts together her leadership team. On her list of members for the Pix Anew board is Steve Perotti, her pastor at First Christian Church in Nampa and a self-professed fan of the theater arts.

    “There’s a huge opportunity for us as a community to make this happen again,” Perotti said.

    As Lasher-Hardy showed the Idaho Press-Tribune around the dark and dusty Pix earlier this week, she talked about her plans for the future.

    The new owner is optimistic about the public’s ability to band together to fix the Pix.

    “My idea for fundraising is more to reach out to the community with all of their expertise, their professionalism on whatever they can give and would like to give,” Lasher-Hardy said.

  • September 16, 2016

    Greensboro, NC - Former movie theater and bookstore sold to Triad university


    From the Triad Business Journal: The former Addam’s University Bookstore that borders UNCG has been sold to the university.

    The building is at 326 S. Tate St. It was built in 1938 and is a cornerstone of the eclectic Tate Street business district.

  • September 12, 2016

    Hanford, CA - Beloved ceiling stars shine again at Hanford Fox after restoration


    From The Fresno Bee: The Hanford Fox Theatre, one of the jewels of the central San Joaquin Valley, is shining brighter than ever following a two-year restoration that cost nearly $4 million.

    The rehab took place under the watchful eye of Dan Humason, a believer in historic preservation and owner of the building that he says “owns me.”

    With the theater open again, the stage that hosted BB King, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, the Smothers Brothers, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Willie Nelson, Alison Krauss and Brooks and Dunn is ready for live performances.

    The Fox opened as a movie palace and vaudeville stage in 1929 and grew into a Hanford institution where big-name entertainers perform and local organizations hold private events.

    Next door to the Fox is Lush wine bar owned by Lindsey Oliveira, who grew up in Hanford and fondly remembers watching movies and shows there.

    Her business has benefited from Hanford Fox foot traffic, she said.

  • September 8, 2016

    Ann Arbor, MI - Ann Arbor’s historic State Theatre to close soon for major renovations


    From MLive: The historic State Theatre in downtown Ann Arbor is getting ready to undergo a major restoration and transformation.

    The movie house at 233 S. State St. will show its last midnight film this Saturday, Sept. 10, followed by a handful of additional film screenings next week, before closing for renovations for eight to 12 months.

    The city’s Planning Commission voted Wednesday night, Sept. 7, to approve the plans, which include constructing a 2,000-square-foot addition on the south side of the building where there’s an alley enclosed behind double doors.

    The addition, measuring 7.7 feet wide and 88.5 feet deep, will fill in the alley and house a new elevator, which is just one of a number of upgrades planned. The Michigan Theater Foundation is undertaking a large-scale interior and exterior renovation of the State Theatre to restore its art deco look and feel in conjunction with its 75th anniversary in 2017.

    That includes restoration of the iconic marque and facade along State Street, as well as converting the two-screen theater into a “one-of-a-kind cinema space” with four smaller screening rooms, more comfortable seating and more leg room.

    The project includes restoring and refreshing the art deco design of the entrance, lobby and restrooms as well.

    The theater is in the State Street Historic District. The city’s Historic District Commission already signed off on the project, which has support in the form of funding from the Downtown Development Authority and private donors.

    The theater was originally designed by architect C. Howard Crane, who also designed the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

    Construction began in 1940 and the State Theatre opened in 1942. The first floor was originally clad in red structural glass panels.

  • Chicago, IL - Davis Theater Could Be Ready By November: Look At The Progress So Far


    From DNA Info: It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated movie premieres of the year — the return of the Davis Theater.

    The cinema, 4614 N. Lincoln Ave., has been closed since January for a multimillion-dollar makeover.

    The opening date is now looking like November, according to owner Tom Fencl, who’s aiming to have the Davis up and running in time for the holiday season.

    Ben Munro, operating partner at the Davis and its new companion restaurant/bar Carbon Arc, provided a recent behind-the-scenes tour.

    Stadium seating is taking shape in the Davis' two front theaters (labeled Theater One and Theater Three) and meticulous restoration work is progressing on the main theater (aka, Theater Two), which is being returned to its Art Deco glory.

  • September 7, 2016

    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY - Park Slope’s historic Pavilion theater will be reborn as hip cinema


    From Curbed NY: Some good news for Park Slope residents: The Pavilion, the neighborhood’s last remaining movie house, will be preserved and transformed into a Nitehawk multiplex theater with seven screens, 650 seats, two bar areas, and in-theater dining, reports the New York Times.

    The theater has a long history of changing hands—and names, for that matter. It debuted in 1928 as the Sanders, but that iteration shuttered in 1978. The theater reopened in 1996 as the Pavilion, eventually expanding to nine screens in the early 2000s. Over time, the theater lost its appeal as its upkeep exhibited less than ideal characteristics—bedbugs, crummy seats, and the like.

    In 2011, Nitehawk cinema founder Matthew Viragh began discussing the possibility of converting the Pavilion with Hidrock Properties, who owns the site, but determined that the timing just wasn’t right. Hidrock later decided to convert the theater into a six-story condo building with a three or four-screen theater, an option that proved unfavorable with the community. That plan has since fallen through, with Nitehawk poised to take over the space. This will be the second theater under the theater company’s umbrella (in addition to its original Williamsburg outpost), and will be dubbed Nitehawk Prospect Park.

    Steven J. Hidary, whose family owns Hidrock, told the Times, “we had to decide, do we build condos or do we save Brooklyn? So we saved Brooklyn.” There are currently no plans to bring condos of any sort to the site.

    “This is a victory for community activism and partnership,” said City Council member Brad Lander, a longtime advocate for the cinema’s preservation. “When we heard about plans to eliminate the theater, we spoke up loud and clear. Together with neighbors, we pushed to save the theater, and make sure any renovation/development respected the historic character of the neighborhood.”

    The $10 million renovation project is slated to begin around the end of October and wrap up around early fall 2017.

  • September 1, 2016

    Cleveland, OH - Great Lakes Science Center closing OMNIMAX Theater, opening new ‘Dome Theater’


    From Fox 8 Cleveland: The iconic giant dome movie theater at the Great Lakes Science Center is about to get a makeover.

    According to a press release, the Science Center’s Cleveland Clinic Foundation OMNIMAX Theater will close after the last movie of the day Sept. 5.

    It will remain closed until mid-October, when it will reopen as the Cleveland Clinic Foundation Dome Theater, featuring the world’s first giant dome cinema laser system.

    The renovations will include all new seats and carpeting.

    The new three-projector, laser-illuminated projection system will replace the current projector that has been in place since the Science Center opened in 1996.

    The name of the theater is changing to reflect the end of the usage of the film-based OMNIMAX system. The naming rights are being retained by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

  • Babylon, NY - New theater to open in Babylon


    From Long Island Business News: A father and son are purchasing a movie theater in the heart of Babylon village and converting it into a performing arts and education space.

    Mark Perlman and his son Dylan Perlman, through their company Main Street LLC, are investing more than $1.6 million to refurbish the existing abandoned building on West Main Street, whose first floor is 7,727 square feet and second floor is 5,801 square feet. The building most recently housed a Bow Tie Cinemas. The new space will be converted in an indoor entertainment venue to include comedy shows, productions, concerts and more.

    The building, which officials say sat vacant for nearly two years, will also house a tuition-based education program. This program includes training for actors and stagehands and for those wanting to study sound engineering, theater lighting, production and more. Mark Perlman comes from an education background, while Dylan is a working actor.

    Originally a single theater, the building was later altered to have three screening rooms. Upcoming renovations will include a new stage and improved acoustics. The Perlmans also plan to tear down walls and increase the seating from 549 to 700. Possible additions include drop-in screen for movie nights, and a bar – the company is applying for a liquor license.

    Babylon Industrial Development Agency CEO Matthew McDonough said his organization has worked with Main Street LLC for about a year, with involvement in planning, zoning, and architecture boards, as well as in working with the town, county and village government.

    The project is appealing in both an “economic development and community development” sense, McDonough said.

    “The South Shore downtowns – Bay Shore, Patchogue – a large part of their success is because they have a theater,” he pointed out.

    “A packed show,” he added “would mean people would be in the streets, visiting local restaurants.”

    The venue would bring 15 to 18 full time jobs, and additional part-time jobs.

    In working with the IDA, the company would receive property tax abatement of $234,250 over the course of 12 years. The company would get $16,800 in mortgage tax recording exemptions, and a maximum of $86,000 in sales tax savings.