Major roadblocks in Alamo Drafthouse pursuit of Lakewood Theater

Photo by Danny Fulgencio
Photo by Danny Fulgencio

Alamo Drafthouse is “quite a bit down the road” in its negotiations for the now-defunct Lakewood Theater, says Craig Kinney of Willingham-Rutledge, which owns the theater. There are a couple of roadblocks, however, and they aren’t small.

The biggest problem at this point, Kinney says, is that Alamo wants 300 more parking spaces for theater patrons. The number is “kind-of off the charts,” he says, and would pretty much require a parking garage, but “where do you put a garage?” he asks. Willingham-Rutledge has contacted the owner of Faulkner Tower about its parking lot near Gaston on Paulus, but those talks aren’t going anywhere, Kinney says. The owners also are talking to Lakewood Towers about using its parking garage on Oram and Alderson, but that garage is a good walk from the theater, Kinney says.

Building a garage anywhere on Lakewood Shopping Center property is highly unlikely, he says. The shopping center has multiple owners, and Willingham-Rutledge owns only the strip with the theater, Mi Cocina, Frost Bank and Starbucks. Also, a few years ago when the company hoped to build a two-level parking garage that backed up to the theater, neighbors nixed it, and that was projected to hold only 60 parking spaces.

Aside from the parking issues, Alamo’s rent offer for the theater was much lower than Willingham-Rutledge wants, Kinney says. So the Lakewood Theater’s chances of remaining a theater don’t seem good at this point.

“We have talked to a number of theaters and theater uses, but Alamo was the most promising,” Kinney says. “We’re always hopeful someone will come back to the table, but I’m not aware of another serious prospect at this point.”

If Alamo or another theater group doesn’t pan out, “we’ll admit defeat and go to other uses for the theater, probably put in a restaurant and some retail, which are not as parking intensive as a theater,” Kinney says. The theater, though nearly 80 years old, is not protected by any kind of historical or landmark status.

We’ve also contacted Alamo Drafthouse to find out its take on the negotiations and plans for the historic theater.

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