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News: UltraStar Hazard Theaters

Festivals Worry Over Redevlopment Plan that Calls for Demolition of Multiplex

Above: The San Diego Asian Film Festival at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theatres at Hazard Center.

Audio

Aired 5/18/10

This afternoon the San Diego City Council will meet to vote on a proposal for the revitalization of the Hazard Center. This could have a major impact on some local film festivals and they are urging people to show their support by coming to the 2:00 pm meeting. Listen to my radio feature.

The San Diego City Council met Tuesday afternoon to vote on a proposal for the revitalization of the Hazard Center. The final decision could have a major impact on some local film festivals.

Development firm Oliver McMillan has big plans for the Hazard Center. Project manager Evan Gerber says it’s the perfect site for a new kind of urban village. But that’s going to require some major changes.

EVAN GERBER: The redevelopment involves addition of 473 residential units and the removal of the existing UltraStar Movie Theater.

DUANE TRAMMELL: The problem with that is that that theater is used as a venue for a lot of local film festivals.

That’s Duane Trammell. He’s the co-producer of the San Diego 48 Hour Film Project. He’s one of a number of film event organizers urging people attend this afternoon’s City Council meeting.

DUANE TRUMELL: We don’t want to stop the development. What we are asking for is a delay on the vote.

Festivals want more time to consider their options and to meet with the city and the developers. Ethan Van Thillo is executive director of the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

The San Diego Latino Film Festival is one of multiple festivals making its home at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center.

SDLFF

Above: The San Diego Latino Film Festival is one of multiple festivals making its home at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: We just hope they postpone the development as currently planned and kind of go back to the drawing board and consider keeping a movie theater and an arts and cultural space there.

Inside one of the multiplex theaters.

SDAFF

Above: Inside one of the multiplex theaters.

Evan Gerber says a theater was never considered part of the redevelopment plan. The UltraStar Theater has had trouble competing with two neighboring movie screens. But Gerber says he has been working to help relocate the film festivals. His choice would be the Reading Gaslamp Theaters. But that’s not the choice film festivals might make says Philip Lorenzo, operations director for the San Diego Asian Film Festival.

PHILIP LORENZO: The idea that we would just move our festival to the Gaslamp is not realistic.

In addition to rental costs festivals have to consider parking, theater projection, and ticketing services -- all of which could mean an additional $100,000 to a festival’s existing bottomline.

PHILIP LORENZO: And for non profits those costs are very substantial and could possibly put us under.

The UltraStar Mission Valley affords festivals ample lobby space to set up booths.

Jose Bucud

Above: The UltraStar Mission Valley affords festivals ample lobby space to set up booths.

Kathy McCurdy spent fifteen years with the San Diego Film Commission.

KATHY McCURDY: If those theaters change as the venue, there’s going to be a level of frustration and it certainly detracts from what has been some very successful branding from all of the festivals. This was the go-to theater complex.

McCurdy says that the City Council should take an interest because festivals attract tourists, increase revenues, and bring in filmmakers that might consider San Diego as their next shooting location.

KATHY McCURDY: So now we’ve enhanced the festival to be business development on another level so I think the council needs to be reminded of that.

The SDAFF crowd at UltraStar Mission Valley.

SDAFF

Above: The SDAFF crowd at UltraStar Mission Valley.

And film festivals don’t want to lose UltraStar as a partner says McCurdy.

KATHY McCURDY: This theater complex has embraced the filmmaking community so we have a partner, a business partner in the Ultrastar at the Hazard Center and I think we’ve been looking for that for a very long time and that would hurt significantly.

The San Diego City Council meets today at 2:00 pm. Festival directors fear that if the proposal is approved, they will be under the gun to find alternate venues and to raise a lot more money. The proposed demolition of the theaters if approved would not actually take place for one to three years but for these festivals that's not much time since they are already planning their events more than a year out.

The interior of the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center.

Jose Bucud

Above: The interior of the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center.

For more information on what local festivals are asking their supporters to do, visit the Facebook cause page Postpone Demolition of the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinema.

The City Council Meeting takes place May 18 at 2:00 pm at 202 C Street Downtown San Diego, City Council Chambers, 12th Floor.

Comments

Avatar for user 'pmr'

pmr | May 18, 2010 at 1:52 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

We hope the City Council won't allow the UltraStar cinema at Hazard shopping center to be closed or relocated. Living here in Linda Vista, it's our favorite movie house, because they offer more interesting movies and events - and they have easier parking than at the Fashion Valley or Mission Valley theaters. If UltraStar gets moved downtown, we'd never go - too far, too much traffic, not as safe at night, and they'd probably have to charge more for tickets in that higher rent scene. Nope, we like the UltraStar being located at Hazard just fine. It's a community thing.

Also, if 400 more residences were added at the Hazard center, traffic gridlock anywhere near the intersection of Friars Road and Freezee Road would be insurmountable, would seriously block the stubby little Hwy 163 off- & on-ramps all day long, not just during rush hours, as it occasionally does now. Have you done any traffic studies yet? We think such increased traffic congestion around Hazard would be a serious problem for all the other businesses in Mission Valley. Bad for local residents like us too. We vote no.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | May 18, 2010 at 11:10 p.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

Well the vote by the City Council was to approve the revitalization plan. So I guess the scramble is on for these film festivals to find a new home. Too bad.

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Avatar for user 'The0ne'

The0ne | May 26, 2010 at 11:32 a.m. ― 4 years, 2 months ago

That's too bad. The theater is great, although the screens were "scratchy". The events they had there, including kid shows, is something not to be miss my families.

I actually don't see this plan panning out too well. I think most long term SD residents will agree the congestion around that area is already way way way out of hand. Adding more companies to it without any other consideration will make life much more difficult. To say the least I can't even get to B&N or Borders without having to fight traffic and parking spot.

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