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The Alexandria Times is reporting that the Old Town Theater in Alexandria, Virginia will be closing its doors for good this weekend (January 7-8, 2012):
The marquee is coming down and the curtains at Old Town Theater are drawing to a permanent close after this weekend, ending Roger Fons’s nine-year stint as the film house’s owner.
Fons said a year of poor ticket sales played a pivotal role in his decision to sell the King Street property to Robert J. Kaufman, president of PMA Properties, in October. Sales had dropped by about 50 percent from 2010, he said.
Kaufman likely will rent out the theater as retail space, Fons said. Kaufman did not return calls, but the 8,500 square foot film house is listed for a five-year lease on PMA’s website. The property holding company is asking for a rent of $42.50 per square foot.
Barbara Ross, the city’s deputy director of planning and zoning, confirmed staff was working with Kaufman to determine the property’s future. There are no definite plans yet, though the parcel is zoned for retail use.
“The loss of the theater on a main street is a common occurrence in towns across the country, but it is still a very sad thing,” Ross said.
Kaufman submitted an application to restore the building’s original façade — essentially removing the box office and the overhang — before the board of architectural review. Al Cox, the city’s chief preservationist, doesn’t see any reason the board won’t approve the changes at its mid-January meeting.
Click the Read link below to view the full article.
According to our records and the information on the theater's web site, the Old Town Theater was built in 1914 or 1915 as the Richmond Theater. The Richmond closed in/around 1972. It was renovated in 1980 and renamed Old Town, until it closed in 1999. It reopened for a short time in February 2002, and then closed for more renovations that December. It reopened at a later (unknown) time until its imminent closure this weekend.
Alexandria has two other movie theaters, the AMC Hoffman Center 22, Regal Potomac Yard 16, and Regal Kingstowne 16, as well as two more within five miles. Combine that with the proximity of Alexandria to the Washington D.C. area, and moviegoers will continue to have plenty of choices after the Old Town Theater is gone.
Maybe someday, someone will come up with an effective plan for small downtown theaters to make a decent living. Until then, this won't be the last such theater to close its doors.
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