55.1 F
Los Angeles
Wednesday, Feb 21, 2024

Megaplexes May Lower Curtain on Area Theater

Robert Bucksbaum, the movie-buff owner of the Westwood Crest Theatre, is putting the historic movie house up for sale after buying it in 2003.

Bucksbaum’s ownership was always a labor of love. He became enamored with the theater when he spent his first day in Los Angeles there dozing through a crummy film upon moving to the city in 1986. Later, when Bucksbaum learned it might be converted into a swap meet, he “mortgaged (his) kids’ future” to purchase it for $3.2 million.

Now, Bucksbaum has listed the 1262 Westwood Blvd. theater for $4.75 million because he can no longer compete with multiplexes, despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to modernize the site.

Last year, Landmark Theatres opened a multiplex at the Westside Pavilion, just down the street from the Crest, while the multiplex at the nearby Century City mall was recently upgraded.

Those competitors have put the squeeze on Bucksbaum, who said that when he factors in a restoration and new digital equipment he’s paid for, the asking price would only allow him to break even on the investment.

“Unfortunately, people go to megaplexes these days,” said Bucksbaum, who owns other movie industry businesses. “I’m not saying everybody; we have a very strong, loyal list of patrons. But most of the younger crowds like to have the options of the megaplexes.”

Bucksbaum would like a potential deal to include a lease-back to him so that he could continue to operate the 460-seat theater and perhaps begin showing live productions. The venue was built by Henry Fonda’s wife, Frances Seymour Brokaw, in 1941 as a live theater. Parts of the building, including its famed murals and the marquee, are on the Natural Register of Historic Places.

“I’ve had so many people say you have to have live shows here,” Bucksbaum said.

However, in a rocky real estate climate, there are no guarantees. Tim Bower, a CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. broker who has the listing, said that potential buyers could include small movie theater operators, live theater companies or even larger companies that would use the Crest as a private screening room. The property was listed Nov. 10.

Bucksbaum isn’t getting out of the movie theater business no matter what happens with the Crest. He owns another theater, called the Reel Cinema, in the Kern County town of Wofford Heights near Lake Isabella. He also owns Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc., a film industry research company, and ReelSource Inc., a box office-tracking company.

Data Deal

Cogent Communications Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based technology company that operates server farms and a fiber-optic data network, has renewed its lease for 8,408 square feet at 530 W. Sixth St. in downtown Los Angeles.

The seven-year renewal, which closed at the start of November, is valued at about $3.3 million. The landlord is Telecom Center LA LLC, the entity of a group of unnamed private real estate investors.

The 13-story Sixth Street building is known as Telecom Center L.A. and is the home to server farms, which store digital information that makes up Web sites. It is adjacent to One Wilshire, the biggest “carrier hotel” or data center building in Los Angeles.

“Downtown L.A. is a West Coast fiber-optics hub and for them to be downtown on the fiber-optics loop next to the One Wilshire building, there are some advantages,” said Jonathan Larsen of Transwestern, who represented Cogent in the renewal.

Larsen said that Cogent looked elsewhere before deciding to stay at Telecom Center L.A.

“There was more expensive space, less expensive space; but the infrastructure for them made it a below-market lease,” he said. “They probably have a couple of million dollars of data equipment in the space.”

J.D. DeRosa of Transwestern also represented the tenant. The landlord was represented by Tom Evans of Morlin Asset Management.

Macerich Falls

Slowed by subpar third quarter earnings and concerns about a poor holiday shopping season, mall owner Macerich Co. is getting hammered on Wall Street.

Shares of the Santa Monica real estate investment trust, which specializes in redeveloping older malls such as Santa Monica Place, are down about 65 percent in the last month and more than 40 percent last week alone. They closed Nov. 19 at $11.81.

Earnings have been a drag on the stock since they were announced Nov. 4. Though the company boosted its outlook for the rest of 2008, briefly giving shares a shot in the arm, Macerich’s net income fell 71 percent to $5.7 million.

“The regional sales breakout implied particularly weak conditions in the bubble markets of Southern California and Phoenix,” wrote Goldman Sachs analyst Jonathan Habermann in a research note about the earnings.

Locally, the company owns the 1.1 million-square-foot Oaks Shopping Center in Thousand Oaks.

It also owns Santa Monica Place, which it is converting into an outdoor mall. Work is expected to be completed in 2010.

In his note, Habermann also expressed concern for a “tougher holiday season,” which could result in rents lower than previously expected.

Macerich declined to comment.

Staff reporter Daniel Miller can be reached at dmiller@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 263.

Previous article
Next article

Featured Articles

Related Articles