Claremont Insider: Looking for a Buyer?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looking for a Buyer?

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin had an article by Will Bigham that said Claremont had received five bids from groups that would like to occupy the Padua Theatre in the Padua Hills area of northeast Claremont.

The theater, which was built in 1928 by Herman Garner, was home to regular shows by a theatrical group called the Mexican Players. Shows at the theatre ended in 1974.

Now used for weddings and other events, the theater is owned by the city of Claremont. The site was placed on the National Registry of Historical Places in 1998. The building damaged in the 2003 Padua Fire and is need of some earthquake retrofitting.

According to the Bigham article, one of the bidders is Arteco Partners, the company that bought the College Heights Packing House from Claremont and redeveloped that building. Arteco is also involved in preservation and adaptive reuse development of old buildings in downtown Pomona, including the Fox Theatre.

Bigham reported that the Arteco proposal for the Padua Theatre includes purchasing the property - something Claremont Mayor Peter was open to:

One potential hitch to Arteco's bid may be its proposal to purchase the facility from the city, which in its request for proposals said it was seeking a tenant to lease the theater space, not to purchase it.

But Mayor Peter Yao and others involved in the process say a sale of the building may be a possibility - it just hasn't been thoroughly considered by the city.

"I think that's a possibility I would entertain," Yao said. "I think we had a very successful project with the Packing House, and I see the Padua (Hills) Theatre as having the same kind of issues and also the same kind of opportunity."

Jerry Tessier, president and owner of Arteco Partners, said an ownership model would allow his company to invest more money into the project.

Other bidders include a ceramics museum, a catering business, and a theatre company.

The city's Human Services Commission will consider proposals and make its recommendations to the City Council, which will then make the final decision early next year, the article noted.

Padua Theatre, circa 1934
Photo Courtesy of Pomona Public Library
and Online Archives of California