The Los Angeles City Council recently approved a redevelopment plan that okayed the conversion of the James A. Doolittle Theatre into a Latino-oriented entertainment center. The plan calls for the city to buy the 1021-seat Doolittle from UCLA and lease it to Regent Properties, the private developer of the area. Regent will in turn sublease the theatre to the Ricardo Montalbano-Nosotros Foundation for $1 a year. The Doolittle will then be renamed the Ricardo Montalban Theatre.
The Foundation intends to raise well over $5 million to pay for renovations and programming, said the Foundation's acting executive director, Al Pina. Rentals to touring productions will account for a sizable share of the $5 million, but the rest will come from private and corporate contributions. "Ricardo's really going to have to do another 'Fantasy Island' to make up for the shortfall," said Pina.
The theatre can't actually be renamed until escrow closes, which Pina hopes will happen by Feb. 1, 2000, at which time the Foundation will launch its capital campaign. A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for late March.
The Foundation will have the option to take ownership of the theatre outright in seven years, without paying further costs. Pina, who helped develop the plan for the theatre, is an executive with the Washington-based National Council of La Raza, but works out of Los Angeles.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent