Monday, March 06, 2006

Alamo Drafthouse & the Casa Linda Theater

Sorry to see this deal fall through. Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas would be fantastic. "Why another movie theater" you ask? The Drafthouse is a draw not just because of Granada Studio Movie Grill-style eats & drinks. But also because they are movie buffs & hold special events - festivals, speakers, actors, movie premieres.

Walked by the Casa Linda Theater. It's a mess. They could really use a well-matched tenant. The Alamo Drafthouse was one last year when they signed the letter of intent. In 2005, Entertainment Weekly called it "the best theater in America".

The Dallas Business Journal reported last August that, "Retrofitting the theater will cost about $1.2 million. The Austin-based company will "maintain the look and feel of the landmark," says John Martin, president of Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas. "We are not bringing in a megaplex. We want to keep it cool and open to the community."

They also pointed out that, "Alamo Drafthouse also is actively scouting sites in west Frisco, where it would like to build an eight-screen prototype, said Vaughn Miller, president of Dallas-based Henry S. Miller Commercial's retail division."

Copia from the Trial Watch blog talks about how the investment group was a different management team than the Austin Drafthouse. She spoke with Karen Davis: "I cannot say how the franchise will develop their programming style there in Dallas. I do not know if they are willing to take the risks in Dallas that we do here in central Austin with our liberal demographic. I can tell you one thing. The more they hear input like yours, the more likely they will be to take such a risk. We love getting programming suggestions. Tell your friends who feel the same way to write the franchise folks."

A couple of thoughts as to why the potential investors backed off - first in regards to parking - not enough spots & not enough area to really make more available without a multilevel parking garage. It's noteworthy to see just how crowded & cramped the lot is. Secondly - the theater tower & Casa Linda location are significant historical & aesthetic draws here. But perhaps the megaplex theater being finished at Northpark is too much competition for Alamo Drafthouse to handle with a charming location like Casa Linda.