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Glendale may be forced to sell Alex Theatre

The shift in ownership from the now-defunct redevelopment agency to the city is in question. Upgrades have been postponed until it's determined whether that maneuver was legal.

March 25, 2012|By Brittany Levine, Los Angeles Times
  • The Glendale Redevelopment Agency used to provide $415,000 a year for operation of the Alex Theatre.
The Glendale Redevelopment Agency used to provide $415,000 a year for operation… (Los Angeles Times )

Millions of dollars' worth of planned improvements at the Alex Theatre have been put on hold, and Glendale may be forced to sell the historic venue because of the state's elimination of local redevelopment agencies.

Glendale Arts, the nonprofit group that operates the theater, said it had postponed upgrades until it determined whether transfer of the venue's ownership from the now-defunct redevelopment agency to the city was legal. If not, the theater could be sold as an agency asset.

In February, a new law took effect shutting down California's roughly 400 redevelopment agencies and redirecting the property tax money they run on to the state, counties and school districts. Glendale's agency was behind such start-up projects as the Americana at Brand and Disney's Creative Campus, but it had also taken over and revamped the Alex Theatre.

In a defensive move, officials shifted ownership of the historic landmark from the redevelopment agency to the city. But it's possible that deal could be undone, and in a report to the City Council last week, city officials warned, "there are more questions and uncertainties than clear answers."

The Glendale Redevelopment Agency used to provide $415,000 a year for operation of the theater. In August, the City Council agreed to pay $3.9 million for new dressing and meeting rooms, a loading dock and other improvements.

Meanwhile, Glendale Arts is exploring funding options for buying the theater if it goes up for sale, said Interim Chief Executive Elissa Glickman. "We are so committed to managing the theater that if the option came up, we want first dibs," she said.

The shutdown of the redevelopment agency has also affected Glendale Arts' ability to get grant funding. The nonprofit hopes that increased theater rentals would help replace the annual redevelopment subsidy.

Although the theater had what Glickman called "its strongest fall season ever," its cash and reserve accounts have still taken a hit. She said that was partially driven by the increasing costs of programming.

As of Dec. 31, total cash accounts were at $349,523, about 35% behind the previous year. The theater's total reserve accounts, which stood at $266,831, were down about 30%.

brittany.levine@latimes.com

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