Future of Old Town Theater space up in the air

Future of Old Town Theater space up in the air
The Old Town Theater has closed, and the new use of its building is anyone's guess. (Derrick Perkins)

The Old Town Theater’s new owner, Robert Kaufman, is looking for tenants to fill the nearly 100-year-old film house, but hasn’t ruled out giving the building’s original purpose an extended lease.

Kaufman has a couple of ideas for the 815 1/2 King St. institution, including renting out the space to large retailers — think J. Crew — though nothing is set in stone. Several people have approached him about using the space as a theater, but they’ll need to convince him it’s commercially viable.

“They may know how to [successfully run] a theater that size their way,” he said. “Then, obviously, I’m interested in seeing it remain [a theater], but it’s got to have some oomph behind the interest.”

McEnearney Associates sold the Old Town Theater to Rob Kaufman, who could lease it to a retailer or even another theater entrepreneur. (David Sachs)

Kaufman discussed the building’s use with consultants, all of whom have told him the space is to small to work as a successful theater.

Either way, the Old Town institution should have new occupants by September. In the meantime, Kaufman will renovate the building — and tear down the marquee — while bringing it up to code.

He’s no stranger to renovation projects. Kaufman scooped up properties at 810 and 815 King Street and restored the buildings to their original glory.

“I’ve seen what that building looked like in its previous form and felt it was important to put it back to that,” he said. “It’s … a very important part of the fabric of Old Town that one utilizes the best these buildings can give and get them to look as appropriate as you can physically make them look.”