Theater closes after 25 plus years |

Theater closes after 25 plus years

by Sally J. Taylor

As the last showing of “Dark City” closed at Wallace Theater’s Tahoe Cinema on Sunday night, the theater stayed dark.

On Wednesday, managers of the theater that operated between Kmart and Raley’s for more than 25 years, turned in their keys to South Y Center officials.

“For several years we have operated on a short-term lease with the center anticipating expansion,” said Scott Wallace, from his office in Hawaii.

Wallace Theaters, with 150 theaters in western states and several Pacific islands, has owned the three theaters on the South Shore since 1991.

Raley’s, which is currently being remodeled, will move its warehouse into the space vacated by Tahoe Cinema to provide more floor space for the grocery and drug center. That remodeling is expected to be completed by the end of May, according to store manager Bob Lear.

During reconstruction, the spaces in front of the theater will also be reconfigured and ready for new tenants in mid-May, said James R. Meredith of First Commercial Properties, the South Y Center’s property manager. Several businesses have expressed interest in those spaces.

While Wallace Theaters has been an excellent tenant, Meredith said, “the move will enable us to take advantage of the opportunity to lease additional space long-term, while allowing Wallace Theaters to move forward with their long-awaited expansion plans at a central location.”

Wallace Theater’s Stateline Cinema is also slated to close next year and be demolished to make way for the Park Avenue Redevelopment project, which includes plans for a new eight-plex theater.

Wallace is negotiating for the contract to operate the new theater.

“We’ve aways been limited by the pre-existing physical plants of each theater and various building and environmental restrictions,” Wallace said. “Our future development plans will enable us to put all the pieces together and have a modern, convenient and comfortable complex.”

Both Wallace cinemas, with their single screens, are considered dinosaurs in the industry. To meet the public demand for variety, one or two dozen screens per theater are becoming more common-place.

“Single-screen theaters have been closing across America for years,” Wallace said. “They are obsolete.”

Attempts to make improvements to the four-screened Lakeside Theater next to McDonald’s at the “Y” have also been problematic, Wallace said.

“We have been aggressiviely trying to improve the Lakeside Theater but have been held back by the nature of the facility and the parking restrictions,” he said. “The site has tremendous constraints.”

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