The Design Commission has approved the contemporary style concept proposed for a plan that would convert the Laemmle Theatre’s Playhouse 7 building into a multi-tenant commercial building without a movie theater.
During its meeting on Tuesday, December 14, the commission voted to approve the application for a final design review for the façade remodel and building addition associated with the conversion of the theater building located at 673 East Colorado Boulevard.
A number of local residents have expressed dismay at the loss of the Laemmle Theatre at that location after Pasadena Now first published GD Realty Group’s construction plans.
Last February the struggling movie theater chain sold the 22,897 square foot location GD Realty Group. A spokesperson for Laemmle had said the sale also included a sale-leaseback that would allow the theater to continue operating in Pasadena.
For reasons not yet known, that arrangement apparently fell through.
Established in 1938 by Kurt and Max Laemmle, nephews of legendary Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle, the company is currently run by Robert Laemmle and his son, Greg Laemmle. The theatre chain has served over a million film patrons each year from seven locations in the greater Los Angeles region.
The Laemmle Theatre’s Playhouse 7 was the first arthouse movie theater chain in Los Angeles.
The proposed makeover will convert the site into a 32,275 square-foot multi-tenant building intended for office, retail and restaurant use.
The project involves the demolition of a portion of the existing building to create a central courtyard, which is proposed to be incorporated with a central fountain, a seating area and shading devices. There is no on-site parking proposed for the project.
During the final hearing on the project’s design, the commissioners again expressed their reservations on the planned repurposing of the existing pylon of the theater as tenant pylon for not being compatible with the new building design.
During the commission’s meeting in September, a regular patron of Laemmle Theatre expressed opposition to the retention of the pylon, saying “retaining the pylon when the theater is no longer there just adds insult to the injury.”
“The transition of it as a tenant pylon is not an acceptable one,” said Commissioner Yolanda Sepulvada. “What it does to me is it degrades what the space is by having a tenant pylon because when tenants have their names up there, it kind of cheapens what it is.”
Commissioner Julianna Delgado concurred with Delgado, and said the pylon for tenants would only be tasteful only if all the fonts are the same. Thus, she suggested that the pylon be used instead for the name of the development and not for signages of businesses.
After the discussion, the commissioners agreed to add to the adopted conditions for approval that the pylon should not be used not as a multi-tenant sign but as a sign for the building’s name.
According to the adopted conditions for approval listed in the staff report, the project should be subject to 50%, 75%, and 100% inspection points and sign-off by staff of the Design & Historic Preservation section to ensure that it will comply with all the conditions, and that all work is performed consistent with the approved plans.