Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Therefore, the Pasadena Fire Department closed the theatre and all
shows were canceled. Folgner later won a lawsuit, which stated
the seats were covered in appropriate material and won
a court settlement. The Fire Departments closure lost deposits on
many shows that were booked. Folgner relinquished the theatre
back to AJB Enterprises completely restored and fully
1994, AJB Enterprises proposed selling the Raymond Theatre to a nightclub
owner that was going to modernize the theatre for use as
nightclub with, pool tables on the balcony and big screens on
the historic theatre walls. Friends of the Raymond did not feel
this was the best long-term use of The Raymond Theatre, for both
the community and the surrounding neighborhood. The City
granted approval of the project, but the potential new owner
chose not to pursue the project any further.
1999, the Buchanan/Perkins Limited Partnership proposed to
convert the Raymond Theatre to an apartment/retail complex.
Friends of the Raymond Theatre fiercely fought the project
through a five-year long hearing process. Over 7,000 supporters
nationwide came forth to lend their support. Five to seven hours
of testimony was given at each hearing by preservationists and
the live entertainment industry, all supporting the viability of
retaining the Raymond Theatre as a theatre venue.
Friends of the Raymond Theatre, won every hearing before the
Historic Preservation Commission, Design Review Commission,
Zoning Hearing Officer and Board of Zoning Appeals. In spite of
overwhelming evidence in the record that the theatre could be
retained and operated with no cost to the city and buyers
requesting to purchase of the venue, the Pasadena City Council
voted in favor of redevelopment of The Raymond Theatre in
Friends of the Raymond Theatre filed a lawsuit against the City
of Pasadena and the AJB Enterprises on
February 7, 2001. The hearing was held on February 11, 2003.
Superior Court Judge Janavs ruled the City of Pasadena acted
lawfully in allowing permits and variances to develop
the Raymond Theatre to an apartment / retail complex. On May 27,
2003, Friends of the Raymond Theatre filed a write of mandate to
the Appellate Courts.
AJB, owners of the Raymond Theatre decided in February 2004,
that they would not await the Appellate Court decision pending
on their project and will move forward on plans to start
construction of their project. March 2004 the project went
before the Pasadena Design Commission for Conceptual Design
Review and was found to be inconsistent with prior approvals
granted by the City Council.
project was appealed to the City Council, who once
again granted approval of approval of Conceptual Design Review.
In 2004, Friends of the Raymond Theatre and the Forecast
Foundation filed a second lawsuit, claiming the project had
breached CEQA requirements and consistency findings.
Recently, a local newspaper found that illegal donations were
made from AJB Enterprises to several of the Pasadena City Council Members,
who have been voting on this project for years.
June 2005, AJB Enterprises proclaimed '"the project they have
been proposing cannot be built as designed." A new architect was
hired and the City deemed the project required major
modifications and the filing of a new application. By law,
filing a new application and making major modifications to a
project requires, original decision maker approval, by either
the Zoning Hearing Officer, or the City Council. However, the
city staff directed the Design Commission to vote that the
project required major modifications, but to treat it as project
with minor modifications. This way, the project would not
require original decision maker approval and could skip over
mandatory review process.
In short, the
project is currently moving forth with no review for consistency
with CEQA, Mitigation Measures, parking or use of neighboring
alleyways. There has been no evaluation if the project is
consistent with original Conditions of Approval for height,
square footage, or
for proper usage of space inside the Raymond Theatre.
The City has also eliminated the Raymond
Theatre from any public Design Review process.
The City has
eliminated the Raymond Theatre from any public Design Review
process. Recently the City issued two building permits to remove
the old marquee, the blocked windows
on the facade and retrofit the parapet of the theatre. The city
granted these two building permits, so AJB would not lose their
Conditional Use Permit which was about to expire. However,
Conditions of Approval for this project state that "no building
permits are to be issues until final Design Review has commenced
and building permits are issued." Building permits were issued
before Design Review started, which clearly breached
Conditions of Approval for this project.
To date the scope
of work ongoing at the Raymond Theatre, has
exceeded the (illegal building permits that were granted.
To date, our understanding is that the paint on the theatres
facade was removed, when only testing for the removal of paint
be allowed. The parapet was not retrofitted, it was
demolished. Asbestos abatement commenced with no
State permit. Over 40 holes were bored
into the theatre for testing, also without permit. The 1921
seats, doors, drapery, fixtures and sections of the balcony
flooring and back wall of the balcony were removed.
There are reports work has been more extensive, due to
photos of materials in the dumpsters, which included wood that
may be from the stage and the balcony railing.
To date, the City
of Pasadena refuses issue a "stop work permit" or fine AJB. The
Historic Preservation Office of the City of Pasadena stated at a
recent hearing "if any illegal demolition or alteration of the
theatre has taken place, the City will grant permits to make it
legal." The City Council, the city
Building and Historic Preservation Department and Pasadena
Heritage have been alerted to the problem. To date, no agency is
willing to stop the demolition or alternation of Raymond
Theatre. Friends of the Raymond Theatre are asking the Appellate
Courts to file a court ordered stay to stop the demolition
Our mission has
always been to advocate for preservation of the Raymond Theatre
and uphold the laws that govern the protection of
resource. Friends of the Raymond Theatre are currently
fundraising money to continue to protect and defend the rights
of the Raymond Theatre. We are also holding media conferences
with celebrities and searching for a buyer to save the theatre
in it's final hour.