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California Theatre Developers Want To Keep Facade, Add Apartments

The shuttered California Theatre at 2115 Kittredge St. in Berkeley.

A proposal for a mixed-use building in Berkeley aims to preserve a section of the California Theatre while paving the way for over 200 apartment units from Gilbane Development.

According to city documents, the project would include a live performance venue maintaining the original facade and marquee of the movie complex, first built in 1914. The proposal is expected to contain 22 affordable housing units and 214 market-rate units, according to the Mercury News.

Apart from the facade and marquee, the redevelopment project intends to demolish the rest of the building, city documents show.

News of the redevelopment first emerged in May, as reported by Berkeleyside. In an interview, Gilbane Development Director Christian Cerria told Berkeleyside that the project is a “tremendous opportunity to breathe new life into the California Theatre.”

The building's facade and marquee were granted landmark status by the Landmark Preservation Committee on May 5, but the rest of the building was granted no such reprieve. 

The 15-story project would also include seating for 300 in the live performance venue.

The California Theatre closed in 2021 when the property's owner chose not to renew the lease, operator Landmark Theatres told Berkeleyside. Landmark had operated the theater since 1994.  

As movie theaters have struggled significantly since the height of the pandemic, the empty spaces can be appetizing morsels for redevelopment.