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The Historic Westlake Theater Across From MacArthur Park Is For Sale

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Westlake Theater (Photo by Alejandro De La Cruz via LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The historic Westlake Theater next to MacArthur Park is up for sale. Realtors from Cushman & Wakefield, representing current owner CRA/LA, are currently taking bids for the 20,000-square-foot structure through August 10.

The theater opened near the intersection of Wilshire and Alvarado in 1926 as a vaudeville and movie palace. In 1935, S. Charles Lee (who designed the Los Angeles and Bruin theaters) built exterior additions, including a ticket kiosk. In 1991, the Westlake closed its theatrical operations, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The theater gained a second live as an indoor swap meet, and still maintains a ceiling mural by Anthony Heinsbergen, and its iconic three-story neon sign reading "Westlake Theater". In 2016, CRA/LA attempted to redevelop the theater and turn neighboring parcels into affordable housing.

But the project fell through. “No one wanted it," Jimmy Chai, one of Cushman & Wakefield's brokers for the theater, said, notes Curbed LA. "There were too many covenants. Now the CRA is just outright selling [the theater] just the way it is.”

"There's no base bid," Chai told LAist. "But we've already had a number of bidders." The sale is just for the theater itself, Chai continued, "the four parcels behind the theater are owned by the city." He added that, because of the structure's historical designation, the buyer would have to work within the current infrastructure of the theater and its zoning laws.

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While the Westlake neighborhood is seeing billions of development dollars pour into neighborhoods all around it (Koreatown, Echo Park, Downtown), developers have been slow to enter Westlake itself. According to Curbed, "[t]he sale of the theater, and whatever it’s turned into, could very well direct the neighborhood’s future." Meanwhile, as Urbanize LA notes, plans for a nearby lot call for a performing arts center, 220-room hotel, and 31-story tower.