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Laemmle Theatres in Pasadena, West LA sold and will be leased back to chain

Laemmle Theatres, a Los Angeles-based art-house cinema chain, has completed the sale and leaseback of its Pasadena and West Los Angeles locations with two additional deals in the works as the company looks to free up cash during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Movie theater chains big and small have been hammered by the health crisis amid stay-at-home orders and the closure of non-essential businesses, leaving most with limited reserves.

Arash Danialifa bought the Pasadena property for $7.3 million, according to Hanley Investment Group, which represented Danialifa.

Danialifa, CEO of GD Realty Group of Los Angeles, owns and develops urban commercial retail, office and residential properties in Southern California. He’s a big fan of Pasadena’s artsy Playhouse Village where the 2,897-square-foot Laemmle Playhouse 7 is located at 673 E. Colorado Blvd.

“We own multiple properties in the area, including 614 E. Colorado Bvd. where Healthy Spot is located,” Danialifa said. “We’re also doing a 60,000-square-foot development at Union Street and El Molino Avenue.”

That mixed-use project will include 40 townhomes and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

Officials with Laemmle declined to discuss the sale and leaseback, including what the company will pay in monthly rent to keep the Pasadena and West L.A. theaters open.

More sale leasebacks in the works

May Realty Advisors of Sherman Oaks represented the theater company in the sale-leaseback of its West L.A. theater at 11523 Santa Monica Blvd. The sale price and buyer were not disclosed. May Realty is working with Laemmle on similar transactions for theaters in North Hollywood and Claremont.

Laemmle is known for showing independent, foreign and art-house films that typically aren’t seen in traditional movie theaters. It was established in 1938 by Kurt and Max Laemmle, nephews of Universal Pictures founder Carl Laemmle. The business is currently run by Robert Laemmle and his son, Greg Laemmle.

Laemmle’s website lists nine locations in Pasadena, Claremont, Glendale, Santa Monica, North Hollywood, Redondo Beach (drive-in), West L.A., Encino and Newhall, which is currently under construction.

The theater chain has added an online feature to accommodate those who want to view films from home. Laemmle theaters are available for private and public screenings and other events, including benefits, film clubs, private parties and film shoots.

An industry challenge

Laemmle isn’t the only theater chain that’s hurting as a result of on-again, off-again stay-at-home orders and strict mandates surrounding how businesses can operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

AMC Entertainment, the largest movie chain in the world, was forced to shut its 1,000 theaters and furlough all 600 of its corporate employees when the pandemic kicked in early last year.

The company’s website says all of its locations are now open or are set to re-open. California movie theaters must currently limit their business to outdoor operations with social distancing.

Carlos Lopez, executive vice president with Hanley Investment Group, said the pandemic accelerated a variety of consumer trends that were already underway.

“I used to go to the gym, but I bought some home exercise equipment for my house,” he said. “And now that we can stream movies into our homes you wouldn’t necessarily go to a movie theater … unless you were just going for that experience.”

Source: Orange County Register

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