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Agency Agrees To Demolition
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Following the Riverbank Redevelopment Agency's decision to demolish the entire Del Rio Theater and start over with an empty lot, city staff is preparing plans to go out for bid within 30 days, said Economic Development and Housing Director Tim Ogden on Friday.

Staff has no recommendation at this point as to what to do with the cleared lot and of what materials the replacement building should be made.

But the city has promised to save what it can among antique items of historical interest such as the theater's marquee, the circular ticket booth at its entrance and a large oak bar in the restaurant.

Faced on May 26 with potentially higher costs for a partial demolition to allow restoration of the northern section of the 1940s building than for a total demolition, the Agency went along with a staff recommendation and voted 4-0 to take down the whole building.

Ogden said three firms' estimates averaged $88,000 for full demolition and $77,000 for partial but at least one company said partial demolition might reach $320,000 including architectural and engineering costs, shoring up the southern wall, utility relocation, permits and grade fill. All firms, in addition, were doubtful about guaranteeing the possibility of partial demolition and that the north side of the building would not be adversely impacted.

Agency members David I. White and Danny Fielder expressed concern about the safety of the building and the city's exposure to legal liability and Fielder made the motion to level the building to the ground.

"We can't spend $320,000 we don't have. We should cut our losses and move on," said Jesse James White in seconding Fielder.

Local theater director Jonathan Kline asked the Agency not to move too fast in destroying a historical landmark and city gateway and to reconsider the costs. Agency member Sandra Benitez also was for taking matters slower but voted for demolition in the final vote. Dave White did not vote due to a conflict of interest in owning property near the theater.