Lakewood Theater threatened because why save anything worth saving?

Lakewood TheaterIsn’t it amazing what isn’t landmarked in Dallas?

The latest building under threat is the Lakewood Theater in East Dallas. The theater was undergoing renovation, but that work has stopped. A week ago, the theater’s old green seats with thick red padding were removed from the building and tossed in the dumpster. Speculation is the building will be torn down.

(Another clue: this is Dallas. The building’s more than 20 years old. There’s not enough parking within 10 feet of the building. General rule: tear it down.)

The Lakewood Theater was built in 1938 and is known for its frescoes and art deco architecture. Karl Hoblizelle was the original owner. He also built the Majestic in Downtown Dallas.

With multiplex theaters opening all over Dallas, the theater began showing second run films. Attendance decreased and after a showing of The Last Picture Show in 1983, the theater closed.

The next year, the theater was renovated and reopened with first-run films. In 1988, it celebrated its 50th anniversary, but by 1993, attendance dwindled and the Lakewood closed again.

In 1994, new owners leased the theater to Keith McKeague. He used the theater for innovative programming and hosted Gaybingo for years before it moved to S4. After a flood in the basement and other setbacks, the owners refused to renew his lease.

Recently Viva Dallas Burlesque has staged a monthly show at the theater with Patti le Plae Safe as emcee.

Alamo Drafthouse has wanted the theater for years.

There’s a petition to the Dallas Landmark Commission to save the Lakewood that reads:

We, the citizens of Dallas, petition the Landmark Commission to initiate landmark designation for the preservation of the Lakewood Theater, the iconic landmark of East Dallas.

Letter to:
City of Dallas
Landmark Commission
We, the citizens of Dallas, petition the Landmark Commission to initiate landmark designation for the preservation of the Lakewood Theater, the iconic landmark of East Dallas.

It is our expectation that the theater as a whole may be appropriately preserved and utilized so that future generations may also know and experience the unique qualities that have endeared it to so many previous generations.

About 2,000 people have already signed the petition and you can sign it here.

—  David Taffet

Dallas police issue statement on safety, alleged increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center

The Dallas Police Department issued the following statement today in response to an unsubstantiated, viral e-mail claiming a huge increase in gang activity at NorthPark Center:

Safety at North Park Mall

There have been multiple inquiries in the last twenty-four hours from the media regarding safety at North Park Mall. These inquiries were apparently spurred by an e-mail from a mall patron who noted an increase in young people at the mall and increased police presence as well as from an informal conversation about the situation with off-duty officers there. Please know the following:

North Park officials report an increase in the number of young people at the mall, particularly around the movie theaters. The report we have from patrol and gang unit officers is that there is no discernable organized gang presence there. The Dallas Police Department’s gang unit did go to the mall during the week of the Super Bowl as a routine measure. They made one arrest. They then did a follow-up but found no compelling reason to continue monitoring the mall on a regular basis.

Reported crime at the mall is actually down since the first of the year as compared to the same time last year. There have been 14 reported Part 1 crimes (not counting shoplift cases) compared to 21 last year. And the overwhelming majority of the offenses both years involve thefts of or from vehicles in the parking lot. There have been two robberies and one aggravated assault reported in the mall so far this year. While those certainly are a concern, they closely parallel the number and kinds of crime seen in previous years and by no means suggest an up-tick in offenses at the mall.

In late January additional off-duty Dallas officers were hired by the mall in anticipation of an influx of visitors coming to Dallas for the Super Bowl. The mall decided to keep hiring additional officers, particularly on weekend evenings, as a precautionary measure.

It is always a best practice to be vigilant of your surroundings whether it is walking in your neighborhood or shopping at your favorite locations. North Park security and the Dallas Police Department will continue to work to keep the mall a secure and vibrant shopping area where the public can go with confidence of being safe.

—  John Wright