Letters for April 8, 2004

Brake for landmarks

Re “Closing credits” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 25):

Thank you to SN&R and Cosmo Garvin for the recent story about the Tower Theatre, which did a great job of explaining the entire issue at hand and presented both sides of the dilemma. You get so very little from the Bee that it’s difficult to see what’s really going on.

Having worked at the original Tower Records & Drug Store on 15th and Broadway, starting back in 1956, it breaks my heart to see that they are going to do the same thing that they did with the magnificent Alhambra Theatre. It looks like the community is going to have to rise up to save and support the Tower. You really can’t stop progress, but you can sure slow it down.

Carl Schumacher

The Tower’s already leaning

Re “Closing credits” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 25):

I’d have more sympathy for the Tower Theatre’s situation if I had any reason to think that Reading International was interested in running it as a viable business. Ever since Landmark left and Reading bought the Tower, I have assumed that they were using it to launder money or as a tax write-off.

Water runs down the interior walls when it rains, seats are not replaced when they’re broken, the employees are distracted (at best), discount tickets are often unavailable, heating and cooling appear to be unregulated, and titles may play for months at a run. It is not uncommon to attend a film alone or with only a few other patrons.

Under Landmark, Tower was offering a vibrant weekly repertory calendar of classic films in addition to a well-run operation of first-run films. If Tower were run as well as Sid Heberger runs the Crest, it wouldn’t be facing the troubling future it does now.

Also missing from Garvin’s article was any assessment of the impact the three Landmark screens at the Sacramento Inn had on Tower or the Crest. I figured that the Sacramento Inn’s terrible location and access problem are what caused it to fold. True?

I want more independent, foreign and classic films in Sacramento. If markets like Sacramento start to take art films seriously, I’ll just bet the distributors will make more prints available.

How about renovating the Tower back to a one-stage venue for large-audience independent films, lectures and concerts? We know that a six-screen cineplex will have tiny theaters inside. I think there is room in this town for all three cinemas.

Travis Silcox

The big tomato goes Big Mac

Re “Closing credits” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 25):

This article is insightful and well-researched. But the plans of the Downtown Development Group and city council to build and subsidize a theater right across the street from the Crest Theatre are inconsiderate to merchants on K Street Mall as well as Tower Theatre and surrounding businesses. It’s the McDonaldization of the city.

A $10 million subsidy is pandering to big business. Work on the infrastructure, first by using the redevelopment funds to fix or attract companies to those vacant buildings on K Street, like the old Tower store, LeRoy’s Jewelry or the old Copenhagen’s store on J Street, or go after the urban blight at 9th and J. There are plenty of other projects that need subsidies, or the money could encourage building around light rail, as mentioned previously in SN&R [“Riding a new rail” by Jeff Kearns, SN&R Cover, March 18].

Century Theatres already has a multiplex in the downtown mall, and farther down K Street is the IMAX—isn’t that enough? People use K Street, but it will never be like Times Square in New York, because it is a long walkway, and consumers don’t like to walk long distances. Bring in more local shops, not corporate giants like Century.

Leave our two remaining art-house theaters alone. The city has already taken the Alhambra Theatre and Sacramento Inn from Sacramento.

Jason M. Cudahy

Save the Tower with consumer power

Re “Closing credits” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 25):

I appreciate historical landmarks and support the preservation of our past. I also believe the Tower Theatre must do more to help itself. Like all successful businesses, Tower management should focus its efforts more on planning for the future rather than misleading the public. No one believes Tower is in jeopardy of demolition, and relating the current situation to the demolition of the Alhambra Theatre is offensive.

In an effort to restore the historic vitality of the region’s center, our goal for more than 10 years has been to bring a theater to K Street Mall. The city is helping to bring that strategic piece of the puzzle into place.

Creating a cultural and entertainment district downtown will steer pedestrian crowds to K Street Mall. This will benefit existing businesses and attract additional retail and restaurants and eliminate storefronts that now stand empty.

Century Theatres is going to show art films, whether it is in the Downtown Plaza or at the proposed 10th and K site, period. Tower must now decide how to find revenue in nontraditional places rather than trying to limit private enterprise.

SN&R also failed to mention that Tower, owned by the Reading Corp., submitted a request to bid on the same piece of property development for the same use that they are now opposing. The story painted an inaccurate picture of the entire council meeting and Councilman [Steve] Cohn by referring to his comments as complaints.

I support city efforts to use its resources to partner on a project that best suits Sacramento. Residents who want to “save the Tower” can do so easily, by buying tickets for shows and events. I have mine.

Doug Link
theater director, IMAX Theatre, Sacramento

Know your ‘undesirable elements’

Re “Closing credits” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 25):

Thank you for bringing to our attention the city of Sacramento’s disregard for our historic movie theaters. There were several statements I want to comment on.

You wrote: “The site at 10th and K streets was the home of a Woolworth’s department store that went out of business in 1997. The whole block on the south side of K Street has been vacant ever since.” This information is incorrect.

The former Woolworth’s site housed a Foot Locker. Rite Aid was on that block, Fresh Cut Florist was at 1026 K Street, California Harvest was next-door, and Capitol Clothing Co., was at 1016 K. I saw eviction notices from the city posted on the doors of two of these businesses.

The next issue I have is with Downtown Partnership Director Michael Ault’s statement, “We’re removing a whole block of blight, bringing new retail and people in and removing the undesirable element that hangs around vacant buildings.” How many people read that as: “We’re trying to get rid of the homeless people”? Remember the old phrase “out of sight, out of mind”? Just because you don’t see the homeless doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Instead of building yet another theater for $5 million to $6 million—downtown doesn’t need another movie theater anyway—take that money to build transitional housing at 10th and K. In fact, for $5 million to $6 million, the city could build several shelters and centers to assist the homeless instead of pushing them somewhere else.

To me, the “undesirable element” in downtown is not the homeless but the drug dealers that hang out in front of Westfield’s Downtown Plaza at Seventh and K. By building another movie theater, you’re just giving the drug dealers and prostitutes a new avenue for income. But then again, some people involved in this project do not live in the downtown neighborhood; they only commute to downtown in their expensive automobiles from quiet suburban neighborhoods.

Let Century worry about the theater on their own, and the city should concentrate on helping the homeless, not pushing them away again.

Dale Halbrook

Save the Tower, lose the parking lot

Re “Closing credits” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, March 25):

This Land Park resident is undoubtedly a better human being for having seen the wonderful indie/international cinematic fare served up by the Tower Theatre. The adjoining Tower Cafe and Joe Marty’s add to the up-and-coming restaurant scene on Broadway.

But is that huge parking lot behind the theater really the best use of the land? Wouldn’t the neighborhood be better served by a grocery store and some new housing?

Chris Morfas