Property co-owners Craig Kinney and Bill Willingham of Willingham-Rutledge talked to multiple restaurants and businesses that could fill the historic space in various incarnations, located at 1825 Abrams Pkwy. in East Dallas. It has stood empty since the last tenant’s lease ended at the end of January.
Things seemed most promising with Alamo Drafthouse, according to the Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate, but two issues are creating problems. And those issues could mean Lakewood Theater’s chances of staying a theater, and not getting broken up into multiple spaces, are at risk.
Built in 1938, Lakewood Theater is not protected by any official historic designation, and while the co-owners have verbalized their commitment to keeping the marquee intact, the interior is another story. If the Alamo Drafthouse doesn’t work out, “We have other options that may involve carving up the space. We just don’t know yet,” Kinney said back in November.
But let’s get back to the current issues at hand.
First, there’s parking. As anyone who has tried to score a parking space near the Lakewood Theater on a busy night knows, it can take a lot of circling and waiting to find a spot. The folks at Alamo Drafthouse want an additional 150 parking spaces to remedy the situation. Where would those go? That’s the question. Probably a parking garage, but where?
The nearby Faulkner Tower has a parking lot located near Gaston Avenue and Paulus Avenue that could be a potential site for a garage, but talks aren’t proving fruitful, according to Kinney. Another possibility is the garage at Lakewood Towers, but it’s a three-to-four-minute walk from the theater, which might be too far, especially in a pair of Jimmy Choos.
Lakewood neighbors blocked an attempt by Willingham-Rutledge to build a 60-space, two-level parking garage next to the theater a few years ago. So a 150-space garage is unlikely to get their approval.
The second issue standing in the way of the Alamo-Lakewood courtship is money. What the Alamo Drafthouse is offering for rent is quite a bit below what Willingham-Rutledge would like. “We have talked to a number of theaters and theater uses, but Alamo was the most promising,” Kinney told the Advocate. “We’re always hopeful someone will come back to the table, but I’m not aware of another serious prospect at this point.”
The Alamo isn’t inexperienced with historic theaters, having restored the Ritz Theater in downtown Austin into a successful business. And they’re not ready to throw in the towel. As Alamo DFW COO Bill DiGaetano told the Advocate, their lower rent offer comes with the promise that the Alamo will do all improvements on their own dime, which can be quite an undertaking in a historic structure.
As for the parking, they’re still wanting to talk about options.
What would you like to see happen with the Lakewood Theater? Leave us a comment!