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South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre sign gets reprieve - pasadenasun.com 


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Home > Pasadena News 

Rialto Theatre sign gets reprieve 

Preservationists worry that support for the South Pasadena building might crumble. 

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The sidewalk is closed to pedestrians in front ofThe Rialto Theatre on the 
1000 block of Fair Oaks Ave. in South Pasadena. (Raul Roa / Staff 
Photographer / March 14, 2012) 


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By Adolfo Flores, adolfo.flores@latimes.com 

March 22,2012 \ \ 6:21 p.m. 

It appears the historic blade sign hanging in front of the Rialto Theatre will survive a safety scare that 
arose last week, but preservationists and city officials are worried about more than just the sign. They 
are concerned their efforts to revitalize the moribund 87-year-old theater may crumble like the 
exterior of the building, which is held together in places by wire mesh. 

On Thursday, representatives of Landmark said they have decided to repair the sign and are in the 
process of hiring a contractor. 


http://www.pasadenasun.com/news/tn-pas-0323-troubling-signs-for-the-rialto-theatre,0,16... 3/26/2012 























South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre sign gets reprieve - pasadenasun.com 


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“The elephant in the room is the question of what's next?” said 
Scott Feldmann, president and chief executive of the South 
Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. “What's going to happen to 
the Rialto now that we saved the rusty old sign?” 

The South Pasadena Fire Department closed the Rialto for 
safety reasons in 2010. It has remained closed ever since. 

Last week the city closed off pedestrian access underneath the 
Rialto's 34-foot neon sign on Fair Oaks Avenue, out of concern 
it was weakened by recent windstorms. The city also placed a 
support structure under the sagging marquee. 

While Landmark has pledged to fix the sign, Interim City 
Manager Sergio Gonzalez said officials have been disappointed with the company's apparent lack of 
interest in the Rialto. 

“We're obviously concerned about the lack of detail and follow-through from both the lease holder 
and property owner,” Gonzalez said. “It's a building that's a landmark in the city and a reflection of 
the city.” 

The Rialto opened in 1925 and was acquired by Dominick Jebbia in the 1930s. He put it in a family 
trust in 1950, where it remains. Landmark, which operates first-run theater complexes around the 
country, holds the lease until 2024. 

Landmark officials and representatives of the Jebbia family did not return calls seeking comment. 

The Rialto is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the blade sign is considered a defining 
feature. South Pasadena officials are concerned that any changes to the sign could affect the building's 
historic standing. 

The chamber, Friends of the Rialto and the city are hoping to collaborate on a long-term plan to 
reopen the theater, with Landmark and perhaps the help of a nonprofit or a major donor. 

“I'm not sure how to go about finding a millionaire who loves theaters, though,” Feldmann said. “The 
Rialto is the most obvious unpolished jewel that we have. That's why we're so intent on getting it 
opened.” 

Landmark, Feldmann added, “is busy running their new business model that doesn't have anything to 
do with running a historic theater." 

Copyright © 2012, Pasadena Sun 


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Comments (2) Add / View comments | Discussion FAQ 

mypapa at 5:20 PM March 23, 2012 

Hmm, how much do the Preservationists think it will cost to rehabilitate the building? 
Perhans that should be nublicized in attemnt to raise funds. What hannens to the monev 


http://www.pasadenasun.com/news/tn-pas-0323-troubling-signs-for-the-ri alto-theatre, 0,16... 


3/26/2012 







South Pasadena's Rialto Theatre sign gets reprieve - pasadenasun.com 


Page 3 of 3 


collected if you can't raise enough to save the building? How much have the preservationists 
contributed of their own money? 


FriendsoftheRialto at 10:30 AM March 23, 2012 

This is very good news, because until yesterday Landmark appeared to be taking a "hands 
off' approach. They are now pledging to do the right thing with the blade sign, not just the 
fastest, cheapest option. 

Proof is also in the way they dealt with the sagging marquee. The city did not place a support 
structure underneath it as reported in this article. Landmark hired a contractor, got the 
required permits, and actially fixed the sag, pushing it back up and rebolding it. This was 
not a temporary job of shoring it up, they did the right thing and FIXED it. 

As for the future of the Rialto, we are working on it right now! Friends of the Rialto is able to 
accept fully tax-deductable donations through our fiscal sponsor, the Pasadena Arts 
Council. With these funds we are hiring Historic Theater experts who will develop a business 
plan based on successful historic theaters in operation around the countiy. Yes, this will take 
time, a lot of work, and money, but we have the community behind us, and a supportive city. 
This has been done in other communities, we can do it in South Pasadena! For more info, 
please visit our sites or email us: 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheRialto 
Website: www.FriendsoftheRialto.org 
Email: FriendsoftheRialto@gmail.com 



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