Erik Oeverndiek/Daily Journal file photo
The Redwood City Planning Commission will consider declaring the Fox Theatre a historic property Tuesday.
The Fox Theatre in downtown Redwood City is often referred to as historic and after Tuesday night the label may be more than just lip service.
The Redwood City Planning Commission will consider declaring the theater at 2215 Broadway a historic property, a designation that will save owners Eric and Lori Lochtefeld between 40 percent and 60 percent of the assessed tax value for a minimum of 10 years. In return, the city will protect a structure it deems a significant resource and provide the Lochtefeld's a financial incentive for the property's long-term maintenance.
At the same meeting, the Planning Commission will also consider the Historic Property Preservation contract proposal for a separate three-bedroom home at 726 Brewster Ave. that dates from 1908.
The City Council in 1987 declared the 1,400-seat art deco theater a historic landmark. The contract takes the label one step further by offering tax incentives for maintaining it to historic standards.
The Redwood City Council adopted the historic preservation program in 1990 and since have granted roughly 15 contracts out of the approximately 100 known eligible properties. Eligibility is currently limited to designated landmarks and structures that contribute to historic districts. Key considerations for approval include the level of deterioration caused by age, the high cost of replicating missed or damaged architecture detail and the strict use of historic rehabilitation standards.
In granting a contract, the city losses little financially because it collects less than 20 percent of the 1 percent in assessed property value. For example, on a property valued at $1 million, the city loses between $800 to $1,200 annually.
The net value of the property is $6.15 million, according to the county assessor's office.
The theater was built in 1928 and opened the following year as the New Sequoia Theatre by the owner of a Peninsula movie house chain. After two decades, the theater was extensively remodeled in the 1950s and in 1993 placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1998, the owners began restoring the theater and it re-opened in June 2002 as a cornerstone of Redwood City's long-anticipated downtown renovation. But in 2009, the theater was at the brink of closure because the then-owners owed millions on outstanding loans and ultimately foreclosed. After several postponed public sales, the bank bought the theater that December for $70,000. The Lochtefeld's purchased it the following summer and since have partnered with Broadway by the Bay, The Youth Theatre Conservatory and launched a renovation including replacement of 153 mezzanine balcony seats, adding fire sprinklers and architectural lighting.
Future plans, according to an improvement schedule included in the historic preservation contract, include new carpet and flooring, improving the steel display cases, building painting, updating the marquee's electrical power and replacing 500 upper balcony seats.
The Redwood City Planning Commission meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27 at City Hall, 1017 Middlefield Road, Redwood City.
Michelle Durand can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.