The Fairfax Theatre, located at Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard, will remain closed indefinitely because of damage to the roof that occurred in January, according to the building’s owner, Alex Gorby. Regency Theaters, the company that operated the Fairfax Theatre, is terminating its lease because it will not be economically feasible to make all of the repairs necessary to reopen, Gorby said in a statement.
Gorby has proposed turning the building that houses the theatre and some adjacent retail shops into a 71-unit condominium complex over 12,000 square feet of retail space. A group of local residents and preservation advocates known as the Friends of the Fairfax Theatre are hoping to preserve the theatre, which was built in 1939. The group is holding an 80th birthday celebration in front of the Fairfax Theater on Saturday, March 27 at noon, and members remain optimistic that the theatre can be saved. The group has applied for the city to designate the theatre a cultural historic landmark, and the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission will hold a hearing on the designation on April 1.
“We are absolutely going forward with the celebration, and we believe that if we can get the building fixed, which the landmark designation will help us with, that it could be brought back to life,” said Hillsman Wright, a representative of the Friends of the Fairfax Theatre. “We don’t see why it couldn’t serve as a cultural center in the community at that corner for the next eighty years.”
Ira Handelman, a consultant representing Gorby, said an environmental study is currently being prepared for the condominium project, and that the project will be forwarded for consideration by the planning department once the study is completed. Handelman did not have a specific timeline. He said operating a theater at the site is not economically viable, and that the owner wants to revitalize the corner by building the new project. Plans call for the Fairfax Theatre’s façade to be preserved in the new development.
“This project respects the past and looks to the future as a catalyst for the continued revitalization of the Beverly-Fairfax community,” Handelman said.
The owner of Regency Theaters was not immediately available for comment. The theatre has been closed since January 19 when the ceiling partially collapsed. The statement by Gorby said some repairs to the roof have been made to prevent any further structural damage.
Wright said he does not know how many people will show up for the birthday celebration on Saturday. He added that people will be able to share their personal experiences about the theater.
“The other thing we want to do is have people come early and stay late, and shop and dine in the Fairfax District,” Wright added. “It’s not only the theatre that is suffering, it’s all of the businesses in the area, and we hope it’s an economic generator for the neighborhood.”
The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission meeting on the Fairfax Theatre will be held on Thursday, April 1 at 10:00am in Room 1010 at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St. For information on the birthday celebration, visit www.sites.google.com/site/savethefairfax.
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