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21 Named to Plan Future of Alex Theater


A 21-member task force was named this week to decide the fate of Glendale's historic Alex Theater, a question that has dogged the city for years.

Glendale attorney Laurence R. Clarke was named to head the diverse group, which includes representatives of the arts, business and industry, homeowners, historic interests, ethnic groups and the city.

"This is a historic moment," Mayor Larry Zarian said after naming the committee. "We are going to get a community theater that will make us all proud."

Various organizations in the past had squabbled with one another over whether the 66-year-old movie house and its neo-Greek architecture should be preserved as a single screen theater, converted into a performing arts center or largely demolished to make way for a new arts facility.

Until recently, officials had ignored the issue because they said the city has no money to renovate the Alex. However, Zarian and city leaders acted quickly late last year to acquire the Fox Lanterman theater pipe organ, which neighboring La Canada Flintridge sold to Glendale this month. Glendale plans to use the organ as a centerpiece in the Alex.

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency in December allocated $500,000 for the initial phase of acquiring and renovating the theater and restoring the organ. A portion of the funds is to be used as "seed money" to raise donations from the private sector for the restoration, which could cost as much as $15 million.

Zarian called for "a marriage between the public and private sectors" to work together to determine the future of the theater and ways to raise money. "We need to bring the private sector together. This is the key to funding," Zarian said.

With the unanimous approval of the City Council, Zarian named Clarke chairman of the Committee for Arts at the Alex. Clarke is president and managing partner of Knapp, Petersen & Clarke, the largest law firm in Glendale. The firm, which has more than 170 employees, including 65 attorneys, relocated last month from Universal City to the newly completed office tower at 500 N. Brand Blvd.

Each of the four other council members also named a member to the committee, while local organizations were asked to select their own representatives.

Appointed by the council were Jim DeMonaco, a vice president at Walt Disney Imagineering; developer Mike Howard; Shirley Seeley of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra, and Mike Sharp, who is active with the Pasadena Playhouse.

Representing ethnic groups in Glendale are architect Marco Brambilla, an Armenian; Danilo Macabuhay, a Filipino radio and broadcasting executive; and Elba Riffel, a Latina.

Other members include Carole Dougherty, Glendale Homeowners Assn.; Dave Ferguson, Glendale Regional Arts Council; John Hedlund, Glendale Partners; Andrea Humberger, Glendale Historical Society; and Vonnie Rossman, Historic Preservation Commission.

Also serving are Ken Simon, Glendale Chamber of Commerce; David Smith, Alex Theatre Revitalization Project; Milton Young, Glendale Community College; and Allan Dietlein, Glendale Centre Theatre. A representative of the Glendale Board of Education has not yet been named.

City representatives are Redevelopment Director Jeanne Armstrong, Planning Director John McKenna and Judy Brooks of the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Division.

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