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Revealed: The Plans to Semi-Preserve Echo Park's Bob Baker Marionette Theater

The future of the beloved Bob Baker Marionette Theater has been up in the air since around October 2014, when the first rumblings emerged of a plan to build a mixed-use complex on the site of the theater. It was unknown whether or not the theater itself—a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark that is still very much presenting puppet shows several times a week—would be spared. The developers were hoping to incorporate it somehow into the new mixed-user, but without the puppet theater active inside, many questioned whether it was worth saving at all. But now a new filing with the Department of City Planning indicates that the developers would like to mostly preserve and repurpose the theater as part of the new development.

The paperwork says that the theater section of the whole historic building (not all of it, but a shortened portion of it) would become the lobby and main resident entrance to the development. That lobby would also be home to a new "interpretive art display" reminding viewers that they're in the former theater and offering glimpses of the best years of the Bob Baker. What's now a puppet studio and the party room will be converted into a resident common area. The "whimsical, scallop-topped fence" in front of the theater will also be saved and repaired, to be incorporated into the new development.

Not everything on the site would get to stick around under the plan, though. A commercial building that shares the property, as well as some "non-contributing" elements of the theater—the kitchen, a shed, some office space—would be demolished to make way for the eight-story project (which was previously described as just five stories). The finished product would hold 102 apartments, spread out across six levels, with two levels of parking. The whole thing would be topped by a rooftop deck and have about 3,500 square feet of retail. The developers intend for the new construction to "surround remaining portions" of the puppet theater.
· First Look at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater Mixed-User [Curbed LA]
· Bob Baker Puppets Moving Out, Apartments Could Be Moving In [Curbed LA]