Latest Guides

Community News

Commission Approves Final Design to Convert Laemmle Theatre’s Playhouse 7 Into Multi-Tenant Building, With No Movie Theatre

Iconic movie theatre sign will remain atop building

Published on Thursday, December 16, 2021 | 5:54 am

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.

Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.

Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m.

Make a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 thoughts on “Commission Approves Final Design to Convert Laemmle Theatre’s Playhouse 7 Into Multi-Tenant Building, With No Movie Theatre

  • When Laemmle opened a new theater complex in Glendale I immediately thought this location would be in trouble. Parking for the theaters has always been this locations biggest drawback in that the only viable long term parking would be on Sundays only or in the pay lots, which have evaporated in the area as developments took over the pay parking lots. Today if you want to go to the movies Monday thru Saturday during the daytime you either have to park blocks away or risk getting a ticket being over the 2hr limit or only go after 6pm. So I suspect thats been hurting their bottomline. Also way back when the theater first opened to maximize the number of seats they invested in seats that were frankly, uncomfortably narrow and tightly packed like an American Airlines coach seat, diminishing the movie experience. They really, REALLY, needed to revamp the seating with seats what were wider and more comfortable, and I believe the owners were not willing to invest the money into this location.

  • Our mayor, Victor Gordo likes to describe Pasadena as a destination City. Does the end of first run movie theaters in Pasadena move us toward the end of destination status? Retail is already suffering. Will this have an impact on restaurants in Pasadena?
    We will sorely miss the opportunity to see quality films on the large screen.

  • This is a tradegy for movie goers in Pasadena.
    To not include parking for this site will impact the parking for Vromen’s and others businesses near the development. What is being considered for new Tennant’s vs the 2 block area of adjacent businesses?

  • Arclight gone. Laemmle going. Paseo Colorado in shambles. What’s the point of living in Old Town anymore? My husband and I moved to this area three years ago because there were two movie theaters within walking distance. No more.

  • This is the saddest news of a movie theater that’s an institution and a center point in so many Pasadena residents’ lives…a huge loss for this community!!!

  • I have to be honest this movie house became a bummer as the years went on. Sure I loved seeing great independent films but the people who worked there were so sour and acted so miserable. I couldn’t imagine any of them were true film lovers. It was always a downer vibe the moment you bought the ticket, seeing the grumpy faces and negativity. I remember going to The Rialto, which was filled with people who actually enjoyed working there and passed along that happy, excited vibe. It really does matter, having people who care. Not just people who want the paycheck. So I stopped going to Laemmle’s a long time ago. I can see the films at home I guess which I agree is not ideal But I won’t miss the bad attitudes.

  • I’m dismayed at the decision to no longer have the Lamelle at its current location. We need the movie theater. Young and old alike will be deprived of a vital historical source of entertainment. Why can’t the new use include the old use? Updated it would attrteven more young audiences. This is a selfish short sighted move.

  • Multiple names on the pylon will be unsightly and demeaning to the design of the building, the immediate neighborhood and destroy any design integrity whatsoever. If this is a non-negotiable and the names HAVE to appear on the pylon someone elsewhere int these comments suggested using the same typeface on all names. Add to that that each name be limited to a specific number of characters.
    Why not leave it blank. A monument sign can be installed on the sidewalk. No need to elevate a list of names over the rest of the neighborhood. Look to Vroman’s for some design insight here.

  • Movie theaters are closing all across the country. The reasons are many but surely streaming and other “platforms” available to people who prefer to watch them from the comfort of their own home is among the most salient. It’s another way in which the twenty-first century version of capitalism is destroying sociability, civic culture, and the Main Streets (or in our case, Colorado Blvds.) of this country. In a few places, people have banded together to raise funds to open “alternative” theaters, but I wonder if such an initiative would work here.

  • This is a disgrace and makes no sense – there are two absolutely massive apartment buildings directly behind the Laemmle on Union and they’re both pretty much empty and have been for years. This is lunacy.

  • As a Pasadena native and design trade professional, I feel this development does not do our beautiful city justice. It has no character or architectural references to our area.
    What a shame to lose the charming Laemmle Theatre and replace it with such a generic building. More thought and discussion should be given to this project.

  • Another short-sighted, stupid decision by pencil-pushers with no sense of history or culture. Shame on all of them.

  • I have lived in Pasadena my entire life. What is happening to this beloved city!!! Developers win again. They have big money and probably don’t live here. There is no interest in preserving what makes a town like Pasadena special. No movie theaters even left in Pasadena. Unbelievable that people in Pasadena accept this fact. I don’t want to travel to another town to spend my money to see a film. I Love the Laemmle for many reasons. A movie day means going to the theater then wandering around the playhouse district stopping. Stopping at Vromans, getting a coffee and or having dinner at one of the restaurants nearby. The Laemmle is one of the only theaters around that can accommodate seniors and disabled without having to sit in the front of the screen. There are plenty of people in Pasadena who have funds and want to see good films. We should not have to leave our town to see a film,!!!!! Pasadena, why can’t you solve this problem? What is happening to our city!!!!!! City planners what are you doing to preserve the things that make our city special? Please work with those who REALLY CARE and want to live here.

  • Just got done seeing a movie here. I’ve only lived here for a couple of years, but have loved going to this theater. It’s such a shame to see these great places turned into more apartments… btw, people move into downtown apartments because there is stuff to do right outside… Like you know, seeing movies?? Who wants to move into a downtown that’s gutted of everything fun? Wish they’d reconsider this.