Is the Lakewood Theater Under Attack?

Should we be freaking out about the Lakewood's presumed demise?

Lakewood Theater, photographed in 2008. Credit: Flickr user, Lulu.
Lakewood Theater, photographed in 2008. Credit: Flickr user, Lulu.

UPDATE: And, of course, Fingers of Fury has more details, including confirmation that crews are not demolishing the murals, etc.

On Friday Jim Schutze stopped by the Lakewood Theater, allegedly mid-donuts run, and noticed that work crews were busy inside the historic theater. He ducked in and, before being kicked-out, noticed that interior demolition work was going on. This was after Robert Wilonsky posted about the demolition shots that were clogging his Facebook page, including a disheartening photo of a dumpster filled with the theater’s seats. This morning, my Facebook page has also been inundated with updates about the renovation/demolition work. There are apparently TV news crews now on the scene.

But should we be freaking out about the Lakewood’s presumed demise? Work should have stopped now that the Landmark Commission has added an item considering making the Lakewood a historic landmark to its next agenda. That should be enough to stay-off any major renovation of the interior. If the owner is ignoring that action, then it will test the city’s will in enforcing its own code.

But there’s another reason to stay positive, at least for now. The owners of the Lakewood has been in conversation with a number of potential operators, one of whom is Aviation Cinemas, the group behind the Texas Theatre redo. Aviation’s Jason Reimer told me this morning that they have been speaking with the Lakewood’s ownership throughout the past year. 

“We’re very interested in helping get the Lakewood Theater back open in a similar manner that we did with the Texas Theatre,” he said. “We also hope that we can figure out a way to do that, both for the community and for entertainment culture in Dallas. I think it’s a great time to be concerned about what they’re planning, but in good faith they’re still exploring a solution that I think everyone would be very happy with.”

In other words, stay tuned.

 

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Comments

  • Wait. The Lakewood Theater isn’t a historic landmark yet? Shouldn’t this designation have been made years ago? If Lakewood really cared about this theater, you’d think this would have been the first step to protecting its legacy.

  • Norman Alston

    Freaking out is not altogether uncalled for here. There is little question that asbestos abatement can be a very destructive undertaking, and that there are many important and fragile things remaining inside the theater. Without any explanation of what is taking place, finding dumpsters full of theater seats, a basic component of a movie theater, could reasonably be expected to create concern. And it sure did. And the reason this theater is not a Dallas Landmark is because the owner(s) didn’t want it. That is the case across the city. If the owner doesn’t want it, it’s very hard to get done. And finally, consideration for City Landmark designation will stop any required City of Dallas permits. You can legally tear up a lot of stuff without a City permit. And the abatement is controlled by the State of Texas, not the City. No jurisdiction.

  • niceguytx

    Landmark status protects the outside. NOT the murals and other things inside.