Empress Theatre, Vallejo, Ca.
- 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
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
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
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
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
"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