Down off Northwest Highway, situated in between Skillman and Abrams, there’s a little slice of Pleasantville Heaven called University Manor. The streets are lined with big shade trees, lawns are trimmed and well-manicured, and people are always out and about.

A bike trail runs along Northwest Highway and connects to White Rock Lake if you head east and will take you under Northwest Highway, over Abrams and all the way to Mockingbird Station if you head west. Plus, the White Rock DART Rail station is within walking distance — perfect for commuters.

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Alamo Drafthouse is a likely tenant for the Lakewood Theater, but parking issues and rent price are sticking points. Photo: Mike Merrill

Alamo Drafthouse is a possible tenant for the historic Lakewood Theater in East Dallas, but parking issues and Alamo’s offered rent are proving problematic in negotiations. Photo: Mike Merrill

As we reported in January, the now-empty Lakewood Theater has an interested suitor, the Alamo Drafthouse, and negotiations are quite a ways along now.

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.

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The Lakewood Theater went dark over the weekend as the existing tenants of both the theater space and the adjoining Arcade Bar have moved out. (Photo: Julie Billingsley Geron)

The Lakewood Theater went dark over the weekend as the existing tenants of both the theater space and the adjoining Arcade Bar have moved out. (Photo: Julie Billingsley Geron)

You’ve certainly heard all about the hubbub surrounding the Lakewood Theater and its many proposed tenants and transformations. Most recently, the longtime bar inside the theater, The Balcony Club, was able to renew its lease at the eleventh hour.

But without management at the Lakewood Theater, the trademark tower and marquee have gone dark, much to the dismay of neighbors. It’s a significant part of the neighborhoods identity, and one that nearby residents had been told would be maintained and preserved whatever should happen to the actual theater.

Instead, as reported on the Lakewood, Dallas Facebook page, the marquee is empty and not a single strip of neon in the sign is ablaze.

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Photo courtesy A. Vandalay via Creative Commons

Photo courtesy A. Vandalay via Creative Commons

The lease for the current tenants of Lakewood Theater is over at the end of January, and it’s anybody’s guess what will happen to the beloved East Dallas landmark, but there are confirmed rumors of interest by Alamo Drafthouse.

As we reported last November with our story Lakewood Theater Makeover Concerns Preservationists, Neighbors, property co-owners Craig Kinney and Bill Willingham of Willingham-Rutledge have been talking to restaurants and businesses that could fill the space, located at 1825 Abrams Pkwy.

Two theater groups have expressed interest, and one of them is the Alamo Drafthouse, confirmed Kinney, who also co-owns surrounding properties in the southwest strip.

“We’ve talked to everybody,” Kinney told Dallas Morning News reporter Robert Wilonsky.  The situation remains, though, “Nobody’s committed. So I can’t tell you whether they’re interested or not.”

Wilonsky also talked to Alamo Drafthouse COO Bill DiGaetano, who wouldn’t confirm any plans on the record, but emphasized his company’s interest preserving in historic theaters.

“Alamo has a policy not to comment on real estate negotiations, whether real or fictional,” he told Wilonsky. “But we have a long history of preserving 35mm film and, as shown by our Ritz Theater in downtown Austin and the current restoration of the New Mission Theater in downtown San Francisco, we have a huge passion for preserving great classic movie houses. I personally love the Lakewood Theater and would love to see it stay a theater.”

DiGaetano also made a point of addressing what seems to be the biggest concern of neighbors and preservationists: the colorful tower. “If anything came to fruition, we wouldn’t touch the marquee or the tower.” Jump to read more!

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Buzz Unit 409 Buzz Lofts

Is the Cedars — a neighborhood of once-industrial properties just south of downtown — the next big thing in Dallas?

If you’re to answer that question with the number of new and upcoming projects in the neighborhood, which include a new Alamo Drafthouse and a redeveloped Plaza Hotel using TIF funds, as well as the number of businesses attracted to the area, then yes, it’s the “next big thing.” But for those who live in any of the myriad cool loft developments in the area, it’s always been a great place to be.

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2401 S. Ervay Rooftop

Here’s a fun property in a neighborhood that is growing like unchecked bamboo! The Cedars, one of the last still-wild urban neighborhoods in Dallas has so many cool condo and loft properties, including this amazing penthouse unit in the Coombs Creek Condos building.

What’s even better is that this unit will be within walking distance to the new Alamo Drafthouse slated for the corner of Cadiz and South Lamar — caddy-corner to Gilley’s Dallas — come 2015. This is going to be such a boon for the neighborhood, bringing in daily foot-traffic and enhancing the cultural quotient of the area. Plus, they have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to cellphones in the theater, so they obviously get my business! There’s one in Richardson, but if you’re south of 635 and want to spare yourself the hike, well, this one will be opening next year!

Cedars Alamo Drafthouse Rendering

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