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If everything goes as planned, the neon marquee of the Lafayette Park Theater will glow over downtown again by December 2022.
The Park Theater Trust, the group determined to resurrect the 80-year-old theater, told the Lafayette City Council last week it is two-thirds of the way toward its fundraising goal and is in talks with prospective operators. The purchase price is estimated to be around $3 million and the goal is to close escrow by Aug. 31.
“We’re currently in our due diligence phase,” trust board member Tracey Karsten Farrell told the council. “And we are launching, effective immediately, our fundraising to finalize the acquisition and begin the rehab of the building.”
The Park Theater, which closed in 2005, debuted Aug. 21, 1941, just months before the U.S. entered World War II. According to the trust’s website, owner Elwood P. Laws already owned the Ramona and El Rey theaters in Walnut Creek (the El Rey, across Main Street from the current city building, was demolished in 1983).
Located on Golden Gate Way, the theater has 4,850 square feet of space and seats 344. The property includes a fourplex apartment building. The renovated theater would include a mezzanine community space, a rooftop terrace, and green space along Lafayette Creek.
“Every community needs a shining light, and the Park Theater is a beloved symbol of our community for three simple reasons: it gives all Lafayette citizens a sense of place, it adds texture to our visual landscape, and most importantly, it binds us closely through fond memories and shared history,” Farrell said.
Council members were excited by the news.
“Oh my gosh, not everything is awful right now — this happened,” Mayor Susan Candell said. “It’s just a gift, for our city, what you guys are doing, and we appreciate you so very much.”
“When Tracey made that announcement, I got goosebumps again, and just cannot thank you enough for all the work you are doing,” Vice Mayor Teresa Gerringer said.
The Lafayette Park Theater Trust website offers more information about the reopening effort.