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Bob Baker Puppets Moving Out, Apartments Could Be Moving In

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The Bob Baker Marionette Theater will be moving out of the nondescript Echo Park building it's occupied since 1961, even though the new owners hoped to incorporate the theater into their redevelopment plans. An architect and consultant for the owner made a presentation to the Cultural Heritage Commission yesterday that proposed protection for the theater building, but with the puppet leaving, the consensus seems to be that it's just a regular old building, and a kind of "dumpy" one at that. That makes things confusing for the developer, who wants to put a 60-foot-wide platform on top of the theater and build three new levels on top with a total of 104 apartments. The theater would be repurposed as a "a lobby and meeting rooms for the housing development," and would feature art that acknowledged "Baker's legacy," according to Eastsider LA.

The building was named a Historic-Cultural Landmark back in 2009. (The landmarking came after some money troubles that jeopardized the future of the theater.) The property owners were instructed to keep working on the plans with city staff, but now that the marionettes are moving on (possibly in March), the building might just get the wrecking ball. "The building is nothing … Without Bob Baker and the marionettes, you don't have a monument anymore. It's been hollowed out," the president of the Cultural Heritage Commission says.

The future of the beloved puppet theater seems up in the air at this point—no one has said where the Bob Baker marionettes are moving to. One puppeteer says that they're working on a "day-to-day" basis. Baker himself is 90 years old and not in the best of health: money's being raised to help pay for his in-home hospice care.
·Is the Bob Baker Marionette Theater worth saving without puppets? [ELA]
· The Bob Baker Marionette Theater Could Become a Mixed-User [Curbed LA]
· Bob Baker Marionette Theater archives [Curbed LA]