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Arts and Entertainment

Urban Outfitters Revamping DTLA's Historic Rialto Theatre

The Rialto Theatre in Downtown, February 2013 (Photo by JMazzolaa via Flickr)
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One of Los Angeles' historic movie palaces is going to be reborn as the ubiquitous mecca of retail hipsterdom, Urban Outfitters.

As part of L.A. City Councilman José Huizar's Brining Back Broadway Initiative, the theater at 812 S. Broadway will be getting a major revamp by the clothing and homegoods shop. The Rialto has been vacant for decades, and as Huizar's office notes, "while the marquee remains, the theater’s once beautifully intricate interior features have been lost to time."

Downtown's Rialto was designed as a movie house by Oliver P. Dennis, but "got a 1919 remodel by William Lee Wollett, designer of the Million Dollar and Metropolitan interiors," according to Historic Los Angeles Theatres -- Downtown. It debuted on May 21, 1917 as Quinn's Rialto by exhibitor John A. Quinn.

The marquee was redone in 1930, and is really all that represents the past glory of the movie palace. A full restoration of the marquee is planned. Unfortunately, the interior has been gutted over the years, and bears little resemblance to a movie theater; this made finding a suitable tenant troublesome for a long time.

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But Urban Outfitters wanted into DTLA (and, with the ACE Hotel opening soon at the United Artists' Building not too far away, this sure seems like a good spot for UO) and the Rialto made perfect sense. Plus, the chain has done something similar in Charleston, transforming the Garden Theatre into a store.

Said John Hauser, Urban Outfitters Chief Officer of Brand Experience:

"The Rialto movie palace building still has incredible character - you can feel the history when you are there. Urban is excited to be on Broadway and to be part of the revitalization."

And we won't have to wait too long for the transformation, reports CurbedLA:

The fully-functioning store will open by the end of the year and feature a "concession stand-inspired cash wrap with glass fronts and tops, a projection screen, steel mesh stairs and exposed wood truss structure."