Friday, August 7, 2009

Parkway Deal Falls Through

By Nate Seltenrich
Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 10:25 PM

On March 22, the Parkway Theater closed its doors. Two months and a week later, we learned that a group of midwestern investors known as Motion Picture Heritage Corporation had designs on the Parkway. The pairing seemed perfect: a run-down theater in need of a new lease on life and a band of vintage theater lovers with money and a record of success. As recently as late July, the solution seemed inevitable -- MPH had engaged in promising talks with Oakland's city council and redevelopment agency as well the theater's landlords.

But all for naught. According to former Parkway programmer and host Will Viharo, who brought MPH on board and served as its representative during talks with the city, the deal has fallen through. "I think it's safe to say that the efforts of Motion Picture Heritage to revive the Parkway have come to a definite end," he wrote in an email, without elaborating. Viharo, however, will stick around, having adopted a role as an intermediary and advocate for the Parkway. Other suitors are waiting in the wings, he says, such as Mark Haskett, former operator of Alameda's Central Cinema. The theater, loosely modeled on the Parkway with couches and a casual atmosphere, was forced to close shortly after the opening of the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex in May 2008. Yet no matter who ends up stepping in, Viharo remains confident that the Parkway still has a brighter future ahead.

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