LA opens search for private operators to run Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro

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The goal: drawing packed theater audiences that will spill out into San Pedro’s downtown and waterfront restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops.

The challenge: successfully marketing San Pedro as an evening destination with ample parking.

The city of Los Angeles this month officially embarked on a search for a professional operator to run the historic Warner Grand Theatre at 478 W. Sixth St., hoping to offer more sold-out concerts and other performances that will generate an economic ripple effect.

The nearly 70-page request for proposals seeks responses by Oct. 26.

Music and amid history

The vision outlined in the document — put together by the Department of Cultural Affairs — foresees an events calendar that will incorporate a mix of music concerts and other live performances.

“There are six comparable facilities in the local market area,” the document states. “None of these theaters are historic, which may give the Warner Grand a way to differentiate itself in the market. These theaters have demonstrated their ability to successfully attract a range of smaller events.

Opened in 1931 by film pioneer Jack Warner, the Warner Grand was one of three neighborhood movie palaces commissioned by Warner Bros. Studios in the Los Angeles region. The theater, designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca, features an art deco/moderne style.

The city purchased the theater in 1996 after it had fallen into disrepair. The Grand Vision Foundation, a private nonprofit organization, has raised money since then for significant improvements and it has become a popular venue for numerous local nonprofits.

Key to revitalization?

But Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino pressed for an outside operator as a way to boost the theater’s potential to lure more visitors to San Pedro.

The proposal sets out reduced fees for community use by groups such as the Grand Vision Foundation, Golden State Pops Orchestra, San Pedro City Ballet, Boys and Girls Clubs of the L.A. Harbor, Scalawag Productions, Encore Entertainers, the Troupe and locally produced film festivals as well as high school and college graduations.

The lack of any dedicated parking for the theater remains a challenge.

The operator chosen by the city would have a 10-year agreement, with the option of two additional five-year terms.

The city’s goal for seeking a professional management company is to “maximize the Warner Grand as a community resource … to use the Warner Grand as a catalyst for economic development and revitalization of the historic downtown … and to ensure that the Warner Grand facility and equipment is maintained and improved.”



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