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VENTURA | West Ventura County Focus

City to Begin Buying Property for Theater

September 21, 1996|HILARY MacGREGOR

A developer signed a lease with Century Theatres this week, moving Ventura's ambitious downtown project onto the fast track and giving the city the go-ahead to start buying up property on Main Street.

Victor K. Georgino flew to San Francisco on Wednesday to sign the lease with Century Theatres.

"This is a crucial step," said Pat Richardson, the city's redevelopment manager. "Now we have a tenant. Things should start happening rapidly now."

A disposition and development agreement approved by the City Council at the end of July gave the redevelopment agency license to move ahead with signing the lease with Century Theatres. But the agreement required that the city guarantee sufficient free parking for the downtown theater.

The city cleared its final obstacle Monday, when the council approved an agreement for the construction and management of a 525-space downtown parking structure on the corner of Santa Clara and California streets.

The planned 10-screen, 1,800-seat theater will cost the city $5.4 million.

The city does not currently own the property the theater will occupy. The signing of the lease means the city can move forward in coming weeks on spending $3.7 million to acquire four properties on the 500 block of Main Street.

"Now we can go out and make a purchase offer," Richardson said. "We will take it to the redevelopment agency in the first part of October."

City officials hope the theater will play a pivotal role in the larger push to revitalize Ventura's downtown. The theater should be completed by April 1998.

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