Here’s my story that’s scheduled to run Monday:
By Brent Champaco
The News Tribune
These days, the Lakewood Theatre – once the echelon of the city’s entertainment and find-dining scene — is a forgotten relic of local history.
Efforts to purchase the 1937 building have come and gone. Its owner wants to sell the building to someone who will restore it.
But Seattle-based Gramor Development Washington doesn’t know exactly what it will take to make it suitable for the public, or how much the job will cost.
(Enter City of Lakewood, stage left)
Included in the city’s 2010 proposed budget is $20,000 for a feasibility study on Lakewood Theatre, which has sat empty for almost two decades. Lakewood proposes using lodging tax revenue, which it can spend only on tourism-related projects.
For the building’s owner and local historians, the study would remove the biggest obstacle to restoring and preserving one of the city’s prominent historical venues. It’s local lore for residents of a city that officially incorporated in 1996.
Bob Jones, property manager for Lakewood Theatre, said Gramor has talked to four or five viable buyers since buying the theater and surrounding property in 1999.
But the owner was never able to give a price tag on the building’s restoration. That’s been a deal-killer.
“We’ve sort of thrown up our hands each time there has been someone who’s been interested,” he said, adding that Gramor is appreciative of the feasibility study money. “Over the past decade, we didn’t know what to tell a perspective tenant.”
Becky Huber, president of the Lakewood Historical Society, says that a lack of an in-depth examination of the building’s needs was a stumbling block.
“Probably, this is one of the best bits of news we’ve heard,” she said of the feasibility study. “It’s something many of our long-timers have asked on a regular basis.”
Read more in Monday’s News Tribune