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"Save The Parkway Theater" Oakland Meeting Of 3-29-09

On March 22nd, the Parkway Theater in at 1834 Park Blvd in Oakland played its last set of films to a large audience, then stopped after 12 years of operation and a lot of memories. This is the video story I made from that night:



A victim of the economy and a landlord seeking higher rents, Parkway Owners Catherine and Kyle Fisher made a decision to close the legendary business just four days before the last opening night.

But no sooner did that happen than a group of concerned Oaklanders sprang into action. They set up a website called http://iliketheparkway.com and a facebook page called "Save The Parkway Speakeasy Theater", then held now three meetings. This video presents much of the action and talk from the second meet: a large event at Roos Cafe on Park Avenue, just three doors from the Parkway itself. Here's the video from the meeting:




The meeting attendees divided into several sub-groups and determined possible future programming and business models for the theater. Then the group was visited by Oakland Councilmember Pat Kernighan, who explained she just met with the owners of the building the Parkway Theater operated in and who said they wanted a new business in it -- a theater operator -- but one that had experience and not a new-comer. She also said the closing of the theater causes a blight on the neighborhood, but the area was already a Redevelopment Area.  That means property tax revenues are collected for use in such ways as facade improvement and business loans by the Oakland Redevelopment Agency.  That's not to say ORA funds will be used here, but it's a possibility in the future.  As the Councilmember's part of the Redevelopment Agency board, she can start that process. 

What's interesting is the owners charged $10,000 per month for rent according to the Councilmember (Which I personally think is totally high for that area. It may be reasonable from a per-square-foot perspective but really the best rent model was for the owners to charge a percentage of the revenue. $10,000 is highway robbery.)

After the sub-group meetings the group reassembled to compare notes. The overall desire is to see the Parkway Theater and its food-oriented business concept reborn.

The organizers planned future events. For example, on Wednesday night a volunteer meeting was held and there will be future events as well.

Meanwhile the employees who lost their jobs at the Parkway are still out there looking for new work. Their needs are more immediate -- the group has a lot of time.
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