El Cajon theater site may be down, but not out

March 28, 2012 by  

El Cajon officials are circulating a proposal that would replace the East County Performing Arts Center with a business class hotel and theater. Developer Neal Arthur wants to build a four star, four storey hotel on the site. The city has wanted a downtown hotel for a while and some within the government believe the time has come. Mayor, Mark Lewis explained that while the theater had been host to some fantastic performances in its heyday, it had become a challenge and those days had passed.

Founded in 1977, the 1,142 seat venue was designed to host an assortment of theatre productions, Oktoberfests, and auto races. Unfortunately, ticket sales lagged and constant flux in the form of city management inhibited the venue from developing a strong audience base. Don Telford, president and CEO of the nonprofit theater management company known as San Diego Theatres Inc commented that it was a sad and disappointing situation. He explained that theaters hold a special place in the heart of people and that there were many dreams, hopes and passions when the East County Performing Arts Center opened.

The facility was closed for repairs two years ago while the city sought to raise $4 million in renovations. The recent economic downturn forced officials to allocate funds elsewhere.

Upset fans may be able to see sunshine through the rain, however. Arthur’s proposed hotel would create jobs and spur a revitalization of the downtown area. Furthermore, the developer plans to include a multipurpose room for plays. Mayor Lewis is also on the record saying a theater with several hundred seats would have to be included in hotel schematics before he will support the proposal. Fans in support of the proposal or interested in saving the venue can help inform the public through the utilization of flyer printing in the El Cajon area.

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