Regent Theatre in Downtown L.A. to Become Performance Venue
Downtown's Regent Theatre -- a Skid Row echo of the movie palaces on Broadway just a couple of blocks west -- has been a first-run cinema, a warehouse, and during the porn heyday of the '70s and '80s, even an adult theatre. Most recently, it's been the site of one-off concerts brought by various promoters over the last decade.
David Cotner The Regent Theatre today
Now impresario Mitchell Frank is sharing his plans to turn the Regent into a multi-use performance venue.
Frank, who founded such clubs as Spaceland in 1995, The Echo in 2001 and more recently the cantinas Malo and El Prado, has himself been a downtown resident off and on for the better part of two decades. His clubs have fostered talent as diverse as Beck, Jenny Lewis and Silversun Pickups, making him a bellwether for local musical talent.
At a a community outreach meeting, held on site at 448 S. Main Street Saturday morning, Frank unveiled the gutted interiors of the long-shuttered theatre to an enthusiastic crowd. Among the changes he's planning: A new gastro-pub and bar will flank the theatre, while the balcony inside will be built out and extended. The theatre's marquee and blade will be preserved. The projected capacity of 1,300 almost doubles the Regent's original seating, and a screen will be installed for films and other projections.
courtesy of Mitchell Frank An artist's rendering of Mitchell Frank's plan for the Regent Theatre
Neighbors at the meeting were welcoming but concerned -- about increased noise levels, and about the parking situation. (For the latter problem, Frank and his lieutenant Eddie Navarrette plan to partner with nearby lots owned by Gilmore and Joe's Parking.)
"I'm a firm believer in being a good neighbor, and being a good partner in the neighborhood," Frank said.
To say that the gutted 98-year-old theatre is a work-in-progress is putting it mildly. While renovations are underway, the sloping concrete floor crumbles in various areas, and graffiti mars the bathrooms, a souvenir from the Regent's aborted era as a concert venue for local micro-broadcasters Little Radio. The roof was redone less than ten years ago, but bits of plaster from the vaulted ceilings and Gothic arches still lie scattered across the floor next to the half-dead piano that sits idly in one corner by the stage.