Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Parkway

As I wrote last year, the New Parkway Theater was having trouble finding a location. I noticed that J. Moses Ceaser stopped posting weekly updates regarding his progress in negotiating a lease at various locations. Around Xmas, he posted a batch of newsletters.

He didn't seem too optimistic. From his December 7 newsletter, Ceaser wrote "But I’m still not optimistic that we’ll get something done, just because these landlords don’t seem very motivated to get something done. At the very least, they’re aware of our urgency, so we’ll know something soon. I’m guessing that there’s a 25% chance of success, and until that dwindles to zero or 2011 ends, I’ll do everything in my power to find a home for the New Parkway." Ceaser and/or his investors had set a December 31 deadline to sign a lease or return the startup funds to the investors.

2011 ended like a bad Hollywood movie for Ceaser which is good news for supporters of his efforts to resurrect the Parkway. The East Bay Express reported that the New Parkway signed a lease at an Uptown Oakland warehouse. It's not the same location as the original Parkway but as Ceaser says of the new location, "It’s smaller. It’s got less character. Everything will be set up different. But we’ll at least be able to talk about our beloved Parkway coming back to life."

Ceaser's muted enthusiasm reflects the tone of the East Bay Express article. "The theater’s new location will be at 474 24th Street, a 7,800-square-foot former sheet-glass factory currently used for special events...From the outside, the boxy warehouse is nondescript and, as it stands now, a tad uninviting. Unlike 25th Street, 24th Street is devoid of casual foot traffic and other art institutions. Current neighbors include an adult video store five storefronts away at Telegraph Avenue and a large mid-century apartment complex one door to the east. 'I think it will create some challenges for us,' Ceaser said. 'I’m knocking down the attendance figures, knowing that it won’t have the facade some of the other places did.'"

The article goes on to say that opening day should be sometime in the summer or fall. Also, the theater will have two screening rooms seating 240 total, a cafe/bar area and a kitchen. The lease term is 21 years and the monthly payments approx. $8,000.

A Contra Costa Times article reports the admission price will be $6 and that the theater will employ 16 full-time workers.

I never attended a screening at the old Parkway Speakesy Theater, I've never met J. Moses Ceaser, did not contribute any funds to his effort and cannot say I play on attending the New Parkway on a regular basis but I was rooting for him. Everyone likes the underdog and I congratulate Mr. Ceaser on his persistence and wish him ultimate success in this endeavor...but the hard work begins now.

No comments: