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Downtown L.A.'s pop-up drive-in needs a new place to park

March 27, 2013|By Oliver Gettell
  • A screening at Electric Dusk Drive-In.
A screening at Electric Dusk Drive-In. (Electric Dusk Drive-In )

For the past five years, two of Los Angeles' totemic structures — the parking lot and the movie theater — have intersected at 240 W. 4th St. downtown. There, the top level of a two-story garage has been moonlighting as a makeshift drive-in, complete with a large, inflatable screen, an outdoor sound system, parking for 80 cars and an artificial lawn for picnic-style seating.

This week, however, the Electric Dusk Drive-In (formerly Devil's Night Drive-In) announced that it is scrambling to find a new home.

According to Eric Heusinger, who runs Electric Dusk along with Darryl Semira, the lot has been sold to a developer and will be demolished to make way for a residential high-rise. Both Standard Parking, which operates the parking structure, and Electric Dusk, which subleases the space from Standard, have until April 14 to vacate the premises, he said. (Standard Parking could not be reached for comment.)

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"Before we're kind of hung high and dry, we have to start looking for a new space," Heusinger said in an interview.

The property on 4th Street between Broadway and Spring is owned by Pacific Investment Group, according to real estate data provider CoStar. Pacific is one of the most active developers in the neighborhood and is in the process of renovating the historic Baltimore, King Edward and Leland hotels. A representative of Pacific did not respond to a request for comment.

Heusinger said he learned of the new development this month but was caught off guard by the April 14 deadline, which he was told of last weekend. He hasn’t yet been able to contact the developer, and with a screening of "Goodfellas" scheduled for April 27, he’s eager to secure a new location to avoid canceling any shows. The current Electric Dusk season runs through August.

Of the 4th Street venue, Heusinger said, "It's a really cool location. … It really has beautiful views of downtown because there are no tall buildings right around us, so you see a lot of the skyline."

That said, the Electric Dusk setup is portable, and Heusinger is cautiously optimistic about finding a new spot.

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"While this is kind of a scary time, feeling like we are rushed into having to make a change, it's also kind of exciting to see what the other opportunities and prospects might be," he said. "Whether we go into a park or there's some giant warehouse that we can operate out of, we're open to whatever that may be."

Heusinger added that Electric Dusk hopes to remain in downtown L.A., a neighborhood that has undergone dynamic but occasionally uneven and often controversial revitalization over the past 15 years. "It's exciting being down there," he said.

Electric Dusk is encouraging anyone with leads on potential venues to contact them through their website, www.electricduskdrivein.com, or via Facebook.

Staff writer Roger Vincent contributed to this report.

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