Landmark Movie House Sold; May Be Converted to Retail Space

The building that houses the Bijou Cinemas, the oldest surviving movie house in the South Bay, has been sold, and plans are underway to convert the Art Deco building into a space for upscale shops.

Westwood-based developers CIM Group has purchased the Hermosa Beach building for about $1.1 million. The new owners are in the business of renovating and redeveloping old buildings, including several buildings on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica and Old Pasadena.

"We are really excited about the developer's plans," said Judy Garland, a resident and organizer on the Save the Bijou Committee. "We're going to be able to keep the old theater [building] while getting rid of the sticky floor and broken seats."

Developers have tentative plans to create a large retail area in the space where the twin theaters are located. They plan to build a four-plex for art house films in a small parking lot in back of the building.

Garland said she would like the original theater to remain as a theater, but realizes it's not economically feasible for the owner.

"It's kind of sad, but at least this way the building is saved and we can still enjoy the beautiful old theater," Garland said.

Hundreds of residents rallied to save the building, and the City Council approved a moratorium against demolition. Residents and city officials are working with the Los Angeles Conservancy to make the building a historic landmark.

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