An anonymous developer (we'll get back to you after some sleuthing) has finally purchased the Linda Lea theater with plans to revamp it into an art house and performance space. Located downtown on Main Street between City Hall and the Ronald Reagan S.O.B. (that’s “State Office Building”, not that other phrase which admittedly rolls off the tongue when following “Reagan”), the Linda Lea’s marquee boasts a sort of “It’s a Small World” version of 60’s diversity, complete with a Sanrio-lookin’ geisha, an adorable pagoda, and that old standby, the butterfly-on-cherry-branch. Linda Lea played first-run international films until it closed in the 1980s. Since then, it has acquired a layer of schmutz and a cat-pee odor.
Yet now downtown is acquiring more residents. Redeveloped and expanding Little Tokyo lies just two blocks away. Main Street’s Gallery Row has grown in just two years into a modest success, including 14 galleries, 9 restaurants, and other assorted/pending performance spaces. And many new projects have been completed in the immediate neighborhood (the Douglas Building, St. Vibiana Cathedral, Caltrans, etc.). Frankly, we’re not convinced that the downtown market is primed for an indie theater – it doesn’t even have any first run theaters. But the marquee is so darn cute, if culturally inappropriate, we’d love to see it lit up in all its faux-geisha splendor.
· Linda Lea Theater [Cinema Treasures]
· Residents Want Promised Civic Park [The Planning Report]