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Theater Anchors Strategy in Reseda

Theater Anchors Strategy in Reseda By BRAD SMITH Staff Reporter Even with its blank marquee partly hidden by a gas station at the intersection of Sherman Way and Reseda Boulevard, the Reseda Theater’s blue, gold, and white facade has a certain ornate elegance. Half a block east on Sherman Way, the tan-colored cube that once was Wolf and Rissmiller’s Country Club is quiet; the stage which once hosted musicians ranging from Chuck Berry to Stevie Ray Vaughan empty. The onetime nightclub is now a church. Reseda, a postwar San Fernando Valley suburb that was home to thousands of GI Generation couples trying to make up for lost time, has been buffeted by demographic changes and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. But the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, an active Neighborhood Council and Chamber of Commerce, and the blue-and-gold “Renaissance Reseda” banners (announcing “Rediscover, Reinvent, Rebuild”) are trying to make a difference. “We’re buying the Reseda Theater and thinking about how we make that work is giving me the cold sweats at night,” said Leslie Lambert, a 14-year-veteran of the CRA who is project manager for the Reseda-Canoga Park region. The theater, an Art Deco/Moderne landmark built in 1948, will be preserved and renovated as the centerpiece of the agency’s plans for Sherman Way in Reseda. The CRA has some $67 million to spend in Reseda and Canoga Park over the next five years. “We’re doing a lot of facade improvement work and very community-oriented improvements,” Lambert said. “This is a totally different kind of redevelopment area than what most people think of; this is totally community based.” The 2,400-acre project area was created in 1994 to provide assistance to a sprawling mix of single- and multi-family residential neighborhoods and commercial areas hit hard by the quake. The area stretches from Louise Avenue to the east to Topanga Canyon Boulevard to the west, on both sides of Sherman Way. The city plans to spend at least $2.2 million in the next year for facade and parking lot improvements. “I think some type of theater would be nice, either live stage or showing classic movies,” said Ron Krulak, 62, who owns a business services store in Reseda and serves on the Neighborhood Council. Reseda -Commercial Facade Improvement Program: 37 storefronts – $750,000 (2005) -Streetscape Improvement Project: $876,000 (CRA/City of Los Angeles) – ongoing -Parking Lot Improvement Project: $650,000 – ongoing -Reseda Theater acquisition: in negotiation – RFP in September, 2004 -Utilities undergrounding, storefront improvements, code compliance: $1.41 million (CRA/LADWP/Reseda Chamber of Commerce) – ongoing Source: Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency

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