2:30pm | The Long Beach Redevelopment Agency board today approved a motion to demolish buildings and parts of the historic Atlantic Theatre as they begin to implement plans for the 6.3-acre North Village Center Project that is intended to one day include a new library, housing, retail and a community center.
The theatre will keep its massive trademark tower (pictured right, all photos by Daniel DeBoom), as well as its terrazzo floors. Staff presented a report showing extensive damage to the building and called it an earthquake hazard, due to water damage and structural deficiencies - most notably in the roof and ceiling. The remnants of the theatre will presumably become part of the new North Library when it is completed.
The theatre opened in 1942 and showed major motion pictures, then adult films in the 1970s. Despite classic theatre aspects like a decorative lobby, ticket booth and marquee, the theatre was last used as a church and has been vacant for years.
Many in the community see the future North Village Center development as a long-awaited opportunity to stimulate the area. Others have fought for the preservation of the theatre. Among them was John Thomas, an RDA board member who recused himself from the vote in order to campaign to save the theatre.
With Thomas recused and boardmember Vivian Tobias absent, the board voted unanimously (4-0) to demolish the structure.
The Redevelopment Agency acquired the theatre about two years ago along with two blocks on either side of Atlantic Avenue, between 59th Street and South Street. RDA reports say that buildings in the 5870-5874 block of Atlantic will be demolished to build the North Village Center.
More information to come...