Developer to Head Alex Project : Renovation: Wayne Ratkovich will oversee a proposal to convert the historic theater into a performing arts center.


An influential Los Angeles developer has been named project manager of a proposal to convert the historic Alex Theatre into a performing arts center.

The city task force charged with determining the future of the Alex has hired Wayne Ratkovich, president of the Ratkovich Co., to develop a business plan and estimated cost of renovating the 1925 movie house at 216 N. Brand Blvd.

Ratkovich was on the team that completed restoration of the Wiltern Theatre and Art Deco office tower in the mid-Wilshire District in 1985. The $16-million Wiltern project is considered one of the most successful theater renovation projects in the country, said Laurence R. Clarke, chairman of the city-appointed Committee for Arts at the Alex.

Ratkovich has restored other historic buildings in Los Angeles over the last 19 years, including the Oviatt Building downtown.

He is involved in a controversial project in Long Beach in which several developers plan to build a city within a city at the site of the old Pike amusement park. Opponents of the oceanfront development have sued to block construction of condominiums, a major hotel and office buildings that they say will cause severe traffic congestion and air pollution and overwhelm nearby neighborhoods.

Ratkovich was one of 16 developers who applied for the Alex position. The 21-member task force interviewed nine candidates and narrowed the field to five finalists before the winner was named at a regular meeting of the task force last week.

Details of a contract with Ratkovich will not be final until the scope of the work expected of him is determined, said Jeanne Armstrong, Glendale redevelopment director. But she said it is expected that the project manager will be responsible for actual renovation of the theater if the Glendale Redevelopment Agency, composed of City Council members, accepts the recommendations of the task force.

The committee hired architects Richard F. McCann of Pasadena and Leon Sugarman of San Francisco to develop plans for converting the Alex.

Glendale is negotiating to buy the theater from Mann Theatres, which has opened a new eight-screen cinema two blocks away.

Plans for the Alex will be discussed at a public forum Saturday, the first community meeting since the committee was formed in January. The forum will be at 10 a.m. at the Alex.

Restoration of the Wiltern, not including the price of the land and renovation of the office building, cost $5 million, Ratkovich said. The cost originally was estimated at $3.4 million, but increased because of the extensive deterioration of the building, which had been vacant for years.

In an earlier interview, Clarke said the Art Deco details of the Wiltern theater "required a great deal of work" that would not have to be duplicated at the Alex. Clarke said he compared the two theaters to conclude that restoration of the Alex will be less costly, possibly no more than $4 million.

Actual cost estimates are expected in October.

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