Despite opposition from the Laguna Beach Historical Preservation Coalition, the planning committee unanimously approved a plan to renovate the 1920s cinema on the South Coast Highway in the center of the city on Wednesday.
The theater has been closed since 2015.
Rivian, an electric car manufacturer in Irvine, has been approved to transform the theater, which not only provides movies and stage performances for the public, but also serves as a meeting place.
The two-story building across the street from Main Beach will also house retail and dining spaces.
Rivian plans to open in the second half of 2021.
"I am very excited about the project," said Commissioner Jorg Dubin. "I'm very happy that something will happen to the theater in the end rather than being empty. I fully approve of the progress of the project."
The major renovation project includes moving the existing two-screen cinema with 653 seats to a 127-seat auditorium. The theater will hold two movie screenings a week, and a movie premiere and speaker show every quarter.
The arches on the stage and the stage will be restored to their original state, and the original star-shaped ceiling lamps will be restored and relocated to the auditorium. New skylights will be added and the front entrance hall will be redesigned to accommodate Rivian programming.
Two Rivian electric cars will be displayed in the lobby, and an elevator will be added to access the second floor.
The original screening room will be converted into a conference room, and the storage room on the second floor will be converted into a conference room.
Rivian also plans to hold art exhibitions in the lobby and upper balcony area together with the "First Thursday Art Walk".
Commissioner Steve Goldman (Steve Goldman) said: "I think this is a very creative reuse of buildings, otherwise it is not economically feasible." "I think let Rivian do this. , The city is very lucky, because in a sense, they provide the basis for the city, the community and taxation. As the lost leaders, they are providing value and benefits to enable them to achieve their primary goal, which is to have a unique Project to promote its brand and sell its products."
The theater is considered to be the city's first concrete and steel structure. It was built by the Aufdenkamp family in 1934 and named New Lynn Theatre when it opened in 1935.
The theater is run by several owners and had a history of several years before it closed about six years ago, mainly due to the cost of upgrading the projection room to a digital format.
Committee chairperson Susan McLintock Whitten (Susan McLintock Whitten) expressed strong support for the project and said the theater will help revitalize the city center. Whitten said: "I think it's a good use, and it's well located." "I think it's symbiotic with Laguna, Laguna's values, community, sustainability and education. It's related. . It is timely. This is the beginning of a new era full of hope. This project is connected in a broad and very local way. This is the anchor point of urban regeneration."
The Laguna Beach Historical Preservation Alliance opposed the current proposal in a letter to the planning committee, saying that the project did not retain the original historical elements of the theater.
The letter said that although the project included “repairs of certain functions that are very popular, it is more appropriately represented as a substantial transformation involving the removal of historical spaces, features, materials and finishes”. "The Alliance does not oppose Rivian as the owner or tenant, or in principle, it does not oppose the use they propose to sell the property. However, for a building, its historical significance is the same as that of the main building of Laguna, Just the history of the cinema and the building closely related to the family that brought the film to Laguna, made too many suggestions."
However, Commissioner Anne Johnson stated that the renovation of the theater is by no means a repair project.
Johnson said: "I don't think this is what we all expected." "I think this project is a good example of adaptive reuse and repair.
Goldman Sachs agreed that if the committee does not follow Rivian's proposal, the building may remain vacant indefinitely.
Goldman Sachs said: "Without such a project, we will only have a vacant building." "I would rather have a vibrant and active building, which contains a community that can provide financial benefits, which is unique and can be useful to us The city issued a statement that instead of building vacant to protect what I believe to be a historical standard, it will gradually decline. Most towns, including me, cannot fully understand it."
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