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Empress Theatre, Vallejo, Ca.

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  • hawaiiguy123155
    Council to vote Tuesday on Empress Theatre plan A renovated Empress Theatre could open as early as February 2005 as part of a proposed downtown arts and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 16, 2004
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      Council to vote Tuesday on Empress Theatre plan



      A renovated Empress Theatre could open as early as February 2005 as
      part of a proposed downtown arts and entertainment district, city
      officials say.

      The Vallejo City Council plans to vote Tuesday on an agreement
      outlining how the old movie house on Virginia Street - which, until
      recently, had been closed for decades - could reopen as a temporary
      performing arts theater and focal point for the city's planned
      downtown renewal.

      The council last year approved loaning about $2.8 million to Triad
      Communities LP, the Vallejo arm of a Seattle-based company proposing
      to revitalize downtown with new housing and business.

      "It's a key site downtown," said Community Development Director Craig
      Whittom.

      The hope is that the renovations will "really bring it back as an
      asset to the downtown," Whittom said.

      The agreement covers a business plan for Empress Theatre Associates
      LLC to run the old movie house. The partnership includes Triad and
      owner Robert Litwin.

      The plan outlines spending for such expenses as a new concession
      stand, employees' pay and advertising. The plan also covers a rental
      schedule and projects movie ticket sales at prices ranging from $4 to
      $8.

      Litwin said he put the theater up for sale at $850,000 but would sell
      it to city for a token $1 for a nonprofit to run.

      "We've got a lot of interest," Litwin said. "A lot of people have
      called on it, and a lot of them are very serious."

      But there have been no takers so far, he said.

      Litwin and Mel Gomez own the building next door that houses the
      coffee shop Mel's Roast.

      Litwin said he plans to lease restrooms in that building to the
      Empress for $10 a year, and rent a space for $1 a year to serve as an
      off-stage waiting area.

      "We're really bending over backward," Litwin said, noting that he
      could charge $1,000 for the restrooms on the open market.

      The city is considering the nonprofit Vallejo Community Arts
      Foundation Inc., which runs the Fetterly Playhouse, to operate the
      theater.

      "There are a lot of details to work out," board president Sheila
      Moran said. "We just want to be part of the conversations and
      discussions because we are the umbrella of the arts organizations in
      the community."
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