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Letters to the Editor: He helped save the Cinerama Dome in the ’90s. He has a warning about preservation

The ArcLight Cinerama Dome.
The owner of ArcLight said its Hollywood theater complex, including the historic Cinerama Dome, will not reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In the late 1990s, I nominated the Cinerama Dome as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument, in response to owner Pacific Theatres’ proposal to gut the Hollywood landmark. (“Save the ArcLight Hollywood and its Cinerama Dome — just as they are. No remake required,” column, April 17)

The charade that followed had little to do with historic preservation and much to do with politics. Pacific Theatres was allowed by the city’s Cultural Heritage Commission to pick and choose what it wanted to destroy and what would be landmarked.

So, the geodesic dome is a landmark, while the supporting ring is not (because Pacific wanted to put an escalator through it); one box office is landmarked, but the other is not (because Pacific wanted to convert one into a bar and destroy the other); and the lobby isn’t landmarked, because Pacific wanted to convert it into a Koo Koo Roo restaurant (remember them?).

What saved the dome was the threat of litigation by preservation group Hollywood Heritage, and Pacific Theatres’ desire for a free $45-million parking garage courtesy of the Community Redevelopment Agency. As a result, the theater was saved through a settlement agreement and covenant.

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I wish I could say that the fight for historic preservation in Los Angeles has improved since then, but it sadly has only gotten far worse.

Doug Haines, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: Nita Lelyveld’s column on saving the ArcLight Hollywood and its Cinerama Dome will probably prompt thousands of pleas from film fans.

So, start a subscription program to help bail them out, and call it “Re-float the Arc.” A donation of $100 would get you a ticket and a T-shirt.

Don’t let the Arc go down.

Bert Berdis, Los Angeles


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