Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Parkway Poll: Return to Eastlake, or Forge a New Path?

By Nate Seltenrich
Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 11:40 PM

We've said it before, but this time we really mean it (we think): The New Parkway is likely weeks away from signing a lease. This should put the theater (or at least a new one in its image) on track to reopen in Oakland by the end of the year. There's just one problem: With negotiations continuing at two promising new locations — one in Temescal, in the old Omni Nightclub; the other in Uptown, in a warehouse at Broadway and 23rd — plus the sudden return of the Parkway Theater to the fold this week after months of harrowing back and forth with the landlord and a denied lease offer as recently as late last month, J. Moses Ceasar of The New Parkway faces a difficult decision.

Each location has its pros and cons; the scales sway back and forth, but don't necessarily settle in any discernible place. So in an email earlier this evening to The New Parkway's sizable mailing list, Ceaser outlined each location's profile and called for members of the public to weigh in. Read his assessments of each site below. And check out the two-question poll here. As votes roll in, Ceaser will be engaged in a "silent meditation retreat" over the next couple weeks that promises to help him answer some questions, too. Two weeks hence, we may finally have our answer.

Happy voting. From Ceaser:

· Park Blvd/Eastlake: Obviously, as the previous home of the Parkway, this location has a lot of appeal, and there is a built-in following for the Parkway to return here. It’s also a very dense housing area and we love the fact that thousands of people can come to the theater by foot or bike. And, of course, there’s a huge amount of history and charm to returning to the original location. But it’s also an old building that’s not been well cared for and there are problems with the plumbing, electrical, and lack of wheelchair access throughout the building. And even though it looks like the Chengs are coming around, they’ve not proven themselves to be responsive, reasonable, or even logical. Someone wrote that if the engagement has been so rocky, what should we expect of the marriage?

· Shattuck Ave/Temescal: This building, the old Omni/Ligure Club, is easily the most interesting of the venues, and has tons of potential. It’s a huge building that everyone walking into would love immediately, if you don’t already. In addition to having two accessible theater spaces, there’s a basement and mezzanine that could be made available to other renters and to community groups. And, have I mentioned a 40 foot bar that greets you right when you walk through the door? There’s also a lot of foot traffic in Temescal, lots of nearby housing, and a surprising lack of nightlife outside of dining. The two main drawbacks for opening in Temescal are the lack of parking and the immense cost of the tenant improvements that would need to go into the building.

· Broadway Ave/Uptown: This area is very up and coming and the property has a landlord who is eager to make a deal. Unlike the other locations, this one is more wide open and thus more of a blank slate for us to come in and mould as we’d like. It’s also the most accessible of all the locations, close to BART, buses, and freeways. While there are parking challenges at the other locations, this one would have its own parking lot and lots of additional nearby parking, in addition to room for indoor bike parking. We have some concerns about the character of the building—it doesn’t have the theater feel of the other locations—and whether the spaces will be appropriate for movie-viewing.

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