Panel backs San Lorenzo Theatre Status
The Daily Review
Wednesday July 03, 2002
By Tasha Bartholomew Staff Writer
HAYWARD -- Supporters of the Lorenzo Theater in San Lorenzo are one step from getting the Art Deco theater declared historical. The Alameda County Planning Commission passed a resolution Monday, 5-0, to re-classify the Lorenzo Theater as a historical preservation district.
The county establishes historical preservation districts to encourage preservation of older buildings partly by barring changes that would harm their historic nature.
For example, county law would prohibit removing the theater's interior murals because of its Art Deco nature. Currently, no historical preservation districts exist in Alameda County.
The Lorenzo Theater Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the acquisition and restoration of the theater, was excited by the decision.
"We are absolutely overjoyed," said Nancy Shelvy of the foundation. "We've been working on this for a long, long time."
The group has been pushing the "Save the Lorenzo Theater" campaign for more than a year.
The foundation said that historical preservation district status has its perks, such as applying for grants available only for such districts and raising the property value of surrounding businesses and homes.
The issue was first brought to the Parks, Recreation and Historical Commission in 1999. The reclassification procedure began this past January. The commission voted in favor of historical status in May, which sent the issue to the Planning Commission.
The resolution will go before the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in August for final approval.
Because classifying the Lorenzo Theater as a historical preservation zone involves a land-use change from commercial use, a new development plan has been updated to meet improvement regulations, said Darin Ranelletti, a county planner. And because the building was originally constructed as a theater, the only use permitted outright by the new regulations would be as a theater.
The Lorenzo Theater opened in 1947 and operated as a movie theater until 1982. Since then, the building has remained vacant.