Alex Theatre enjoys surge in revenue

The Alex Theatre logged a 22% jump in income during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2011, when the historic venue was coming out of a summer of intrusive renovations.

Still, city officials this week said the surge is nothing to sneeze at. When comparing the first quarter results to the same period over the last four years, the theater saw 8% higher than average total income, according to a city report released Tuesday.

Plus, while other first quarters had 10 to 15 days of activity, this most recent quarter had 29.

“It's another step forward for the Alex Theatre,” said Philip Lanzafame, Glendale's officer for economic development and asset management.

While the theater has seen its income jump to roughly $590,000 during the first fiscal quarter from nearly $482,000 in the same period of 2011, Glendale Arts, the nonprofit that manages the venue, is preparing for another revenue slump as more renovations begin next summer.

The renovations were once paid for by Glendale's now-defunct redevelopment agency. Although the state dissolved redevelopment, the $5.2 million to pay for more renovations is still available.

But one part of the renovation project, an expansion of the theater into its parking lot area, has become more expensive than first projected. Glendale Arts may have to pay for other parts of the renovation on its own in the future in order to stretch the available money.

“This project has gone in phases and starts and stops,” Lanzafame said, adding that much of it has been complicated by the dissolution of redevelopment.

City officials still don't know how the theater will fare when the state begins to sell off redevelopment assets. Although officials have tried to protect the venue, it could still be sold off to the highest bidder if the state determines that it owns the venue. To hedge against that possibility, the city changed the zoning of the land the theater sits on to prevent the building from being used as a bowling alley or church if it was to be sold.

In addition, the theater depends heavily on a $415,000 subsidy from Glendale. The so-called management fee once came from the city's redevelopment agency. The money is secure for this year and about $243,000 is left, but the subsidy is set to expire in 2015. And the theater currently would not be able to make ends meet without it.

Glendale Arts board Chairman James Wilke and Executive Director Elissa Glickman said in a letter to the City Council that while the organization was pleased with the positive first-quarter report, “the board and staff are aware the next few years will continue to be challenging.”


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