Former Novato Theater owner cheering on latest restoration effort
Posted: 04/04/2010 10:22:14 PM PDT
Updated: 04/04/2010 10:55:18 PM PDT
The Novato Theater on Grant Avenue in Old Town Novato. Bernice Baeza, who was involved with the Lark Theater restoration, has submitted a renovation plan to the City Council. (IJ photo/Robert Tong)
The woman who used to co-own the old Novato Theater with her husband said she’s rooting for the latest effort to restore the long-closed facility and turn it into a performing arts center.
Santa Rosa resident Clara Bowman has held the same hope for almost 20 years now. She still holds the deed on the property on Grant Avenue where her late husband, Al Bowman, built the theater in 1945 and leased it to theater operators. It was closed in 1991 because of competition from multiplexes and the high costs of bringing the theater up to modern building codes.
The city, which bought the theater for $400,000 and pays Clara Bowman $2,250 a month, is under pressure to move forward with a new tenant who will make structural upgrades on the building and open it again. The city will be finished with its payments in August 2011.
“I know how important this is to downtown Novato,” Bowman said. “I’m so glad that certain people have taken charge of the theater because it really belongs to them, the people of Novato. It does not belong to the City Council and it doesn’t belong to the Bowman family, it belongs to the residents.”