On Thursday, the LA Times reported that the Fairfax Theatre in Hollywood will be gutted to build more ever-so unique high-end condominiums, a new swimming pool, and underground parking. Opened in the 1930s, the venue originally had one screen and only 1500 seats but has since become a triplex, screening mainstream and independent new releases (including a five-year Laemmle tenancy that boasted foreign and art flicks) as well as film hits of years past.
Since the plans to close the theater were announced, actor and singer-songwriter Gaetano Jones has organized a group dedicated to saving Fairfax Theatre from the $30-million rebuild. Hollywood Heritage and the Los Angeles Conservancy are among the organizations backing Jones' plight, now attempting to earn the theater city cultural-historic landmark designation. Filing the paperwork will take place after a meeting with the property's representatives, but with the redevelopment already planned, it becomes a question of whether or not the effort has come too late.
Jones and co. argue that all parts of the established need to be preserved, both exterior and interior, but developers and even some critics of the project have pointed out that architect Howard Laks' plans are amazingly respectful to the vintage style, preserving the integrity of the original building's exterior while still allowing its owners to move forward.
Stopping the demolition would also affect shop owners occupying space on the same property, unsure of whether or not to continue to improve their businesses or get ready to pack up. Prolonged dispute brings only more anxiety to them.
Is it worth it? Do Jones and the Hollywood Heritage have a fighting chance? Or are we all fruitlessly prolonging the inevitable?