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There's a Second, Rival Plan to Reactivate South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre

For years, the Rialto Theatre sat on Fair Oaks, shuttered and falling into disrepair. Now all of a sudden, people are competing to revitalize it. In June, Vintage Cinemas (owner/operator of Los Feliz's Vista Theatre) was in talks with Izek Shomof, who bought the theater in the beginning of the year. The a preliminary plan at that time was to bring the Rialto back as a functioning movie house. Now, says the Pasadena Star News, there's a second plan from an "unnamed, five-person team" that would activate all areas of the theater as a "multi-use" venue.

The "underdog" team is made up of people with experience in theater management, law, architecture, and the restaurant business. Their spokesman, executive director of the Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Escott Norton, wrote in a newsletter that the group "[plans] to utilize all areas including the stage, dressing rooms, orchestra pit, apartments, and the retail and restaurant spaces" for everything from live shows to after-school tutoring, in addition to fully restoring the theater. (Norton is also the founder of the group Friends of the Rialto.)

Their vision would also involve the transformation of the Rialto taking place in stages, opening first "with a $500,000 investment that would include movie screenings and limited access to the stage." Then, after "Another $5 million to $10 million," the rest of the renovations would be completed, as would the construction of a second stage.

The plan from Vintage Cinemas, which included turning the theater into a multiplex screening first run movies and keeping the retail storefronts along Fair Oaks, was presented back in June and an update on the plan is due in the next few weeks, VC owner Lance Alspaugh told PSN. Meanwhile, a member of Shomof's company says nothing's going to be finalized until renovation gets started on the crumbling exterior of the Rialto, which is a little behind schedule (it was supposed to start in February) and still in the permitting stages.
· Multi-use development plan for South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre emerges [PSN]
· South Pasadena's Run-Down Rialto Theatre is Being Revived [Curbed LA]
· A Plan to Bring South Pasadena's Rundown Rialto Theatre Back as a Multiplex [Curbed LA]