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VENTURA : Developer Proposes Cinema Complex

A Pasadena developer has proposed building an eight-screen movie theater in downtown Ventura, replacing an existing bar and thrift store with a 2,000-seat cinema, retail stores and restaurants.

“We foresee downtown Ventura changing into a small-scale Old Pasadena,” wrote Alan C. Weirick, vice president of Weirick Management Corp., in a letter to a city official last month.

Old Pasadena, Weirick noted, had a high vacancy rate and low rents only 10 years ago. Today, the area is jammed with tony shops, ritzy eateries and movie theaters.

Weirick Management Corp. has never built a movie theater complex, the letter says, although the company has developed neighborhood shopping centers in other Southern California cities. The firm also has built three apartment complexes, including a 96-unit building in Oxnard.

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The company is interested in land at the southwest corner of Main and Palm streets. A low brick building--housing the Mission Thrift Shop and a bar called the Rendezvous Room--now stands on the property.

In an interview last week, Weirick declined to say whether he is negotiating with any major movie chains, although the letter states that his company plans to lease the cinema to a “first-run” chain.

The developers are scheduled to meet with the City Council’s economic committee Jan. 9 to discuss their idea.

“Boy, I hope that one works out,” said Councilman Gary Tuttle, upon learning of the proposal. “No redevelopment agency has ever made it big without a movie theater downtown.”

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The company will ask Ventura to provide land and financing for a five-story parking garage next to the theater complex, according to the letter. The city is already sinking millions into a refurbishing effort for the downtown area.


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