Davis Council Approves Plans to Expand Varsity Theater

The city council unanimously approved the idea of adding a second screen to the Varsity Theater on Tuesday. The theater was originally configured for a second screen, and all council members agreed that it was a good idea to continue down that route.

Since the Varsity turned into a revenue generator for the city against original predictions, there was little opposition at the meeting to the idea that downtown could be given another screen to draw people into the downtown business area at night.

Since the Varsity had it’s grand re-opening in April of 2006, it has had about 3,252 average monthly viewers. In it’s first nine months, the Varsity raked in roughly 50-60% of comparable Sacramento theaters. In the last seven months, it has been more along the lines of 70-80% of those numbers.

The tenants of the Varsity appeared during the council meeting to express their satisfaction at running the theater, and would like to continue to do so with the addition of a second screen. With another screen, it is predicted it will bring more people (about 56,500 annually) into downtown, as well as allowing more new independent films to release sooner in Davis.

Some have expressed concern about the cost of the project which is listed at $750,000. People wondered how the city could afford that money for a project like this. However, it is important to understand that this money did not come from the general fund. Instead it comes from the Redevelopment Agency.

There are separate types of monies that are available to municipal governments. Redevelopment money could not go to pay for Fire Fighters. In fact, Councilmember Lamar Heystek noted that absence of the Fire Department as evidence that this was not a general fund budget issue.

According to the city’s website, the City of Davis Redevelopment Agency’s purpose is the elimination of “blight” from the downtown Core, Olive Drive, and South Davis sub-areas. It does this through a variety of means but mainly the acquisition of property or partnerships with property owners in efforts to improve property.

One of the reasons the Varsity Theater was an alluring target for Redevelopment Money is that the city would recoup its expense in a variety of ways.

There are several different options as to the aesthetic nature of the possible renovations, in particular where the path to the second screen will be located. Councilman Don Saylor was not very warm to the idea of a tunnel leading to the second screen, expressly stating that it would be “plug-ugly” and that he hopes it is not the architectural choice for the renovations.

As far as the timeline, once details are worked out with the architect and then a plan for approval comes before the council in about 6 months, another 9 months or so of construction will be required.

Contrary to the reporting in the Davis Enterprise, the City Council for the most part was very pleased with the project. According to the Davis Enterprise,

“Some, however, had reservations.”

There were a few reservations sort of, but the vast majority of the meeting was very positive. And some of the items that were mentioned in the Enterprise were actually jokes, for instance,

“Councilman Lamar Heystek said he was disappointed the Varsity didn’t screen a Dutch film that he and his girlfriend — both of whom speak Dutch — were disappointed to miss.

“When you think about foreign films, think about the Netherlands and the dozens of Dutch people you could be reaching,” Heystek said.”

I do not understand why that was reported in the paper.

The council was actually very excited about this project.

Mayor Sue Greenwald said:

“It’s been a dream of mine to bring independent film to Davis since I first moved here 18 years ago…so for me this is the culmination of 2 decades of work, its been a spectacular success. Almost every other college town has an independent film theater, it was a major gap in our cultural offerings, and now we have one and its one of the nicest.”

Jon Fenske, one of the managers of the Varsity Theater, said a few words to the council.

“Receipts are up over 20% this year, and we expect to continue to grow next year, it usually takes a theater about three years to get established. The studios we deal with think our numbers are fantastic and winning the trust and the faith of the studios is a key component to this business… A second screen is much more than doubling our film offerings, which is a negligible increase in operating costs. There is also the timing effect, which is huge.”

The timing effect refers to the ability to show new arthouse films the weekend that they open. With only one screen, the Varsity sometimes shows a movie long after its release date due to commitments to other films. “You want to grab the film while its hot”, Fenske said.

I am happy that the Varsity will be getting a second screen. An art theater is always the one that has the best movies, and it is much more of a community landmark than the Regal theaters in downtown. I hope the council continues with this project and allows the Varsity to become the premier theater in Davis to see great movies.

—Simon Efrein

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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64 thoughts on “Davis Council Approves Plans to Expand Varsity Theater”

  1. Rich Rifkin

    Just my two cents on this proposal…. I hate it.

    From the plans I have seen — the second screen idea came before Historic Resources a few months ago — the idea of ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the Varsity in order to build a tunnel to reach a very small screen space in the back of the theater will uglify and crowd the existing main theater space.

    Further, if this project makes any financial sense, then let the tenants foot the entire bill for the “improvement.” Regardless of where the city dollars come from, they are still the property of the people of Davis and should not be used to improve the financial prospects of a private business.

    I should add that I am happy we have the Varsity downtown as an art house cinema. I attend films there frequently and appreciate the work of Jon Fenske and Sinisa Novakovic and their employees. I am sympathetic to their desires to want to have a second screen to increase their business. I simply don’t like the idea of ruining the aesthetics of what now exists in our historic landmark to get that accomplished.

    Insofar as their business is now financially successful, I don’t think the taxpayers owe them anything else, in terms of t.i.’s or physical alterations of the structure.

  2. Rich Rifkin

    Just my two cents on this proposal…. I hate it.

    From the plans I have seen — the second screen idea came before Historic Resources a few months ago — the idea of ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the Varsity in order to build a tunnel to reach a very small screen space in the back of the theater will uglify and crowd the existing main theater space.

    Further, if this project makes any financial sense, then let the tenants foot the entire bill for the “improvement.” Regardless of where the city dollars come from, they are still the property of the people of Davis and should not be used to improve the financial prospects of a private business.

    I should add that I am happy we have the Varsity downtown as an art house cinema. I attend films there frequently and appreciate the work of Jon Fenske and Sinisa Novakovic and their employees. I am sympathetic to their desires to want to have a second screen to increase their business. I simply don’t like the idea of ruining the aesthetics of what now exists in our historic landmark to get that accomplished.

    Insofar as their business is now financially successful, I don’t think the taxpayers owe them anything else, in terms of t.i.’s or physical alterations of the structure.

  3. Rich Rifkin

    Just my two cents on this proposal…. I hate it.

    From the plans I have seen — the second screen idea came before Historic Resources a few months ago — the idea of ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the Varsity in order to build a tunnel to reach a very small screen space in the back of the theater will uglify and crowd the existing main theater space.

    Further, if this project makes any financial sense, then let the tenants foot the entire bill for the “improvement.” Regardless of where the city dollars come from, they are still the property of the people of Davis and should not be used to improve the financial prospects of a private business.

    I should add that I am happy we have the Varsity downtown as an art house cinema. I attend films there frequently and appreciate the work of Jon Fenske and Sinisa Novakovic and their employees. I am sympathetic to their desires to want to have a second screen to increase their business. I simply don’t like the idea of ruining the aesthetics of what now exists in our historic landmark to get that accomplished.

    Insofar as their business is now financially successful, I don’t think the taxpayers owe them anything else, in terms of t.i.’s or physical alterations of the structure.

  4. Rich Rifkin

    Just my two cents on this proposal…. I hate it.

    From the plans I have seen — the second screen idea came before Historic Resources a few months ago — the idea of ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the Varsity in order to build a tunnel to reach a very small screen space in the back of the theater will uglify and crowd the existing main theater space.

    Further, if this project makes any financial sense, then let the tenants foot the entire bill for the “improvement.” Regardless of where the city dollars come from, they are still the property of the people of Davis and should not be used to improve the financial prospects of a private business.

    I should add that I am happy we have the Varsity downtown as an art house cinema. I attend films there frequently and appreciate the work of Jon Fenske and Sinisa Novakovic and their employees. I am sympathetic to their desires to want to have a second screen to increase their business. I simply don’t like the idea of ruining the aesthetics of what now exists in our historic landmark to get that accomplished.

    Insofar as their business is now financially successful, I don’t think the taxpayers owe them anything else, in terms of t.i.’s or physical alterations of the structure.

  5. Anonymous

    I at first wholeheartedly supported the idea of a second screen, but not when I heard the details. A tunnel???? What an awful idea!!! And in the existing theater? I do not see how ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the existing theater is going to help bring many more people to the Varsity. It allows showing more than one film at a time, but you lose the seating in the main theater. Also, a tunnel would be so ugly. Why not just put a path around the theater, through the little courtyard west of it, to the theater in the back? I also do not in any way support replacing the pump house and courtyard/organge grove with a three story office building.

    Leave the Varsity alone, if you cannot add the second screen tastefully.

  6. Anonymous

    I at first wholeheartedly supported the idea of a second screen, but not when I heard the details. A tunnel???? What an awful idea!!! And in the existing theater? I do not see how ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the existing theater is going to help bring many more people to the Varsity. It allows showing more than one film at a time, but you lose the seating in the main theater. Also, a tunnel would be so ugly. Why not just put a path around the theater, through the little courtyard west of it, to the theater in the back? I also do not in any way support replacing the pump house and courtyard/organge grove with a three story office building.

    Leave the Varsity alone, if you cannot add the second screen tastefully.

  7. Anonymous

    I at first wholeheartedly supported the idea of a second screen, but not when I heard the details. A tunnel???? What an awful idea!!! And in the existing theater? I do not see how ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the existing theater is going to help bring many more people to the Varsity. It allows showing more than one film at a time, but you lose the seating in the main theater. Also, a tunnel would be so ugly. Why not just put a path around the theater, through the little courtyard west of it, to the theater in the back? I also do not in any way support replacing the pump house and courtyard/organge grove with a three story office building.

    Leave the Varsity alone, if you cannot add the second screen tastefully.

  8. Anonymous

    I at first wholeheartedly supported the idea of a second screen, but not when I heard the details. A tunnel???? What an awful idea!!! And in the existing theater? I do not see how ripping out most of the seats on the left side of the existing theater is going to help bring many more people to the Varsity. It allows showing more than one film at a time, but you lose the seating in the main theater. Also, a tunnel would be so ugly. Why not just put a path around the theater, through the little courtyard west of it, to the theater in the back? I also do not in any way support replacing the pump house and courtyard/organge grove with a three story office building.

    Leave the Varsity alone, if you cannot add the second screen tastefully.

  9. Anonymous

    Thank you for reporting on this. I found the City Council discussiona nd the Enterprise both very vague and rubber stamped. I appreciate that the funds do not come from the General Fund BUT they do come instead of something else…..could someone expand on what else these redevelopment monies could provide, e.g., parking structure downtown, Olive Drive ‘improvements’, Davis Manor Shopping center, etc. etc.
    I do not agree with the tenants ONLY contributing $50K out of $750K (an estimate). I think more discussion was warranted. And I trust the Council (??) to heed the Historic Resources Commission’s recommendations when it comes to altering the historic sections of the building/theatre.

    Thanks again.

  10. Anonymous

    Thank you for reporting on this. I found the City Council discussiona nd the Enterprise both very vague and rubber stamped. I appreciate that the funds do not come from the General Fund BUT they do come instead of something else…..could someone expand on what else these redevelopment monies could provide, e.g., parking structure downtown, Olive Drive ‘improvements’, Davis Manor Shopping center, etc. etc.
    I do not agree with the tenants ONLY contributing $50K out of $750K (an estimate). I think more discussion was warranted. And I trust the Council (??) to heed the Historic Resources Commission’s recommendations when it comes to altering the historic sections of the building/theatre.

    Thanks again.

  11. Anonymous

    Thank you for reporting on this. I found the City Council discussiona nd the Enterprise both very vague and rubber stamped. I appreciate that the funds do not come from the General Fund BUT they do come instead of something else…..could someone expand on what else these redevelopment monies could provide, e.g., parking structure downtown, Olive Drive ‘improvements’, Davis Manor Shopping center, etc. etc.
    I do not agree with the tenants ONLY contributing $50K out of $750K (an estimate). I think more discussion was warranted. And I trust the Council (??) to heed the Historic Resources Commission’s recommendations when it comes to altering the historic sections of the building/theatre.

    Thanks again.

  12. Anonymous

    Thank you for reporting on this. I found the City Council discussiona nd the Enterprise both very vague and rubber stamped. I appreciate that the funds do not come from the General Fund BUT they do come instead of something else…..could someone expand on what else these redevelopment monies could provide, e.g., parking structure downtown, Olive Drive ‘improvements’, Davis Manor Shopping center, etc. etc.
    I do not agree with the tenants ONLY contributing $50K out of $750K (an estimate). I think more discussion was warranted. And I trust the Council (??) to heed the Historic Resources Commission’s recommendations when it comes to altering the historic sections of the building/theatre.

    Thanks again.

  13. Anonymous

    Two reactions when I heard about the idea; a second screen would be cool, but where would you put it?

    There is a medium amount of space behind the screen that was used for theater stuff, but I don’t see how that area could fit more than a class room size projector screen. I haven’t seen the plans, but it sounds like they might want to be re-envisioned.

  14. Anonymous

    Two reactions when I heard about the idea; a second screen would be cool, but where would you put it?

    There is a medium amount of space behind the screen that was used for theater stuff, but I don’t see how that area could fit more than a class room size projector screen. I haven’t seen the plans, but it sounds like they might want to be re-envisioned.

  15. Anonymous

    Two reactions when I heard about the idea; a second screen would be cool, but where would you put it?

    There is a medium amount of space behind the screen that was used for theater stuff, but I don’t see how that area could fit more than a class room size projector screen. I haven’t seen the plans, but it sounds like they might want to be re-envisioned.

  16. Anonymous

    Two reactions when I heard about the idea; a second screen would be cool, but where would you put it?

    There is a medium amount of space behind the screen that was used for theater stuff, but I don’t see how that area could fit more than a class room size projector screen. I haven’t seen the plans, but it sounds like they might want to be re-envisioned.

  17. sharla

    I don’t think it will be so bad. Instead of a “tunnel” think of it as a long hallway. The main theater can stand losing 8-10 feet on one side and still be fairly large. The theater, even when used for well attended community events, has a hard time filling up and I don’t believe that I have ever heard of it selling out. The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street. The connection to the lobby and bathrooms will allow consolidation of staff and concessions.

    The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.

  18. sharla

    I don’t think it will be so bad. Instead of a “tunnel” think of it as a long hallway. The main theater can stand losing 8-10 feet on one side and still be fairly large. The theater, even when used for well attended community events, has a hard time filling up and I don’t believe that I have ever heard of it selling out. The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street. The connection to the lobby and bathrooms will allow consolidation of staff and concessions.

    The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.

  19. sharla

    I don’t think it will be so bad. Instead of a “tunnel” think of it as a long hallway. The main theater can stand losing 8-10 feet on one side and still be fairly large. The theater, even when used for well attended community events, has a hard time filling up and I don’t believe that I have ever heard of it selling out. The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street. The connection to the lobby and bathrooms will allow consolidation of staff and concessions.

    The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.

  20. sharla

    I don’t think it will be so bad. Instead of a “tunnel” think of it as a long hallway. The main theater can stand losing 8-10 feet on one side and still be fairly large. The theater, even when used for well attended community events, has a hard time filling up and I don’t believe that I have ever heard of it selling out. The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street. The connection to the lobby and bathrooms will allow consolidation of staff and concessions.

    The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.

  21. Overburdened Taxpayer

    I was interested to learn that the $750,000 is coming out of the Redevelopment Fund rather than the General Fund. However, I want more clarification on where the Redevelopment Fund money comes from. Why do I ask that question??? Politicians have a nasty habit of putting large amounts of taxpayer dollars into pots of money designated for frills, while leaving the pots of money for basic services underfunded. That way when money runs out for police, fire, or teachers, politicians can claim the need to raise taxes or lose basic services – yet at the same time spend on art projects, new movie screens or whatever. So the basic question I am asking is how are the pots of money funded – who decides how much money is put into the Redevelopment Fund to begin with? Is the City of Davis given money from the state that must be used only for redevelopment, or is the city given tax dollars but the city is free to decide how much is put into the Redevelopment Fund pot? It makes a huge difference which scenario is the case. I would argue if there are no strings attached before the money was put into the Redevelopment Fund, then perhaps it was overfunded at the expense of the General Fund. I am not accusing here, I am asking a simple question most taxpayers would like the answer to I think. Thanks DPD, for at least clarifying the difference between the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund, and where the $750,000 is coming from. But for me, that is not the end of the story. How the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund are “funded” is a very important question – and allows everyone to better understand the inner workings of their local and state gov’t – which John Q. Taxpayer is often ignorant of. And I do think there may be a difference of opinion on how that $750,000 was spent. Not all citizens are interested in independent films. I would have preferred the money be spent on something more generic that benefitted more Davisites, but that is a much less concerning issue than the original question I posed. I find this blog extremely educational, by the way, because I get more investigation and clarification on the issues than elsewhere.

  22. Overburdened Taxpayer

    I was interested to learn that the $750,000 is coming out of the Redevelopment Fund rather than the General Fund. However, I want more clarification on where the Redevelopment Fund money comes from. Why do I ask that question??? Politicians have a nasty habit of putting large amounts of taxpayer dollars into pots of money designated for frills, while leaving the pots of money for basic services underfunded. That way when money runs out for police, fire, or teachers, politicians can claim the need to raise taxes or lose basic services – yet at the same time spend on art projects, new movie screens or whatever. So the basic question I am asking is how are the pots of money funded – who decides how much money is put into the Redevelopment Fund to begin with? Is the City of Davis given money from the state that must be used only for redevelopment, or is the city given tax dollars but the city is free to decide how much is put into the Redevelopment Fund pot? It makes a huge difference which scenario is the case. I would argue if there are no strings attached before the money was put into the Redevelopment Fund, then perhaps it was overfunded at the expense of the General Fund. I am not accusing here, I am asking a simple question most taxpayers would like the answer to I think. Thanks DPD, for at least clarifying the difference between the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund, and where the $750,000 is coming from. But for me, that is not the end of the story. How the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund are “funded” is a very important question – and allows everyone to better understand the inner workings of their local and state gov’t – which John Q. Taxpayer is often ignorant of. And I do think there may be a difference of opinion on how that $750,000 was spent. Not all citizens are interested in independent films. I would have preferred the money be spent on something more generic that benefitted more Davisites, but that is a much less concerning issue than the original question I posed. I find this blog extremely educational, by the way, because I get more investigation and clarification on the issues than elsewhere.

  23. Overburdened Taxpayer

    I was interested to learn that the $750,000 is coming out of the Redevelopment Fund rather than the General Fund. However, I want more clarification on where the Redevelopment Fund money comes from. Why do I ask that question??? Politicians have a nasty habit of putting large amounts of taxpayer dollars into pots of money designated for frills, while leaving the pots of money for basic services underfunded. That way when money runs out for police, fire, or teachers, politicians can claim the need to raise taxes or lose basic services – yet at the same time spend on art projects, new movie screens or whatever. So the basic question I am asking is how are the pots of money funded – who decides how much money is put into the Redevelopment Fund to begin with? Is the City of Davis given money from the state that must be used only for redevelopment, or is the city given tax dollars but the city is free to decide how much is put into the Redevelopment Fund pot? It makes a huge difference which scenario is the case. I would argue if there are no strings attached before the money was put into the Redevelopment Fund, then perhaps it was overfunded at the expense of the General Fund. I am not accusing here, I am asking a simple question most taxpayers would like the answer to I think. Thanks DPD, for at least clarifying the difference between the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund, and where the $750,000 is coming from. But for me, that is not the end of the story. How the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund are “funded” is a very important question – and allows everyone to better understand the inner workings of their local and state gov’t – which John Q. Taxpayer is often ignorant of. And I do think there may be a difference of opinion on how that $750,000 was spent. Not all citizens are interested in independent films. I would have preferred the money be spent on something more generic that benefitted more Davisites, but that is a much less concerning issue than the original question I posed. I find this blog extremely educational, by the way, because I get more investigation and clarification on the issues than elsewhere.

  24. Overburdened Taxpayer

    I was interested to learn that the $750,000 is coming out of the Redevelopment Fund rather than the General Fund. However, I want more clarification on where the Redevelopment Fund money comes from. Why do I ask that question??? Politicians have a nasty habit of putting large amounts of taxpayer dollars into pots of money designated for frills, while leaving the pots of money for basic services underfunded. That way when money runs out for police, fire, or teachers, politicians can claim the need to raise taxes or lose basic services – yet at the same time spend on art projects, new movie screens or whatever. So the basic question I am asking is how are the pots of money funded – who decides how much money is put into the Redevelopment Fund to begin with? Is the City of Davis given money from the state that must be used only for redevelopment, or is the city given tax dollars but the city is free to decide how much is put into the Redevelopment Fund pot? It makes a huge difference which scenario is the case. I would argue if there are no strings attached before the money was put into the Redevelopment Fund, then perhaps it was overfunded at the expense of the General Fund. I am not accusing here, I am asking a simple question most taxpayers would like the answer to I think. Thanks DPD, for at least clarifying the difference between the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund, and where the $750,000 is coming from. But for me, that is not the end of the story. How the Redevelopment Fund and the General Fund are “funded” is a very important question – and allows everyone to better understand the inner workings of their local and state gov’t – which John Q. Taxpayer is often ignorant of. And I do think there may be a difference of opinion on how that $750,000 was spent. Not all citizens are interested in independent films. I would have preferred the money be spent on something more generic that benefitted more Davisites, but that is a much less concerning issue than the original question I posed. I find this blog extremely educational, by the way, because I get more investigation and clarification on the issues than elsewhere.

  25. Doug Paul Davis

    This is a very basic explanation based on my fuzzy memory from when Catherine Hess talked about it at the City-County two-by-two in March or April.

    The redevelopment agency gets money by claiming a large share of property tax revenue created by new developments in redevelopment areas, siphoning off funds that otherwise would go to the city general fund, county and other local government agencies.

    Now Davis takes a portion of that money and passes it through to the county in exchange for the county agreeing not to develop in certain spheres of influence. The city basically gives back $2 million per year to the county in what is known as the pass-through agreement.

    So over a period of time we are talking about at least tens of millions of dollars.

    Redevelopment Agency

    Here’s a link to the budget and also the map of where the redevelopment agency has jurisdiction.

  26. Doug Paul Davis

    This is a very basic explanation based on my fuzzy memory from when Catherine Hess talked about it at the City-County two-by-two in March or April.

    The redevelopment agency gets money by claiming a large share of property tax revenue created by new developments in redevelopment areas, siphoning off funds that otherwise would go to the city general fund, county and other local government agencies.

    Now Davis takes a portion of that money and passes it through to the county in exchange for the county agreeing not to develop in certain spheres of influence. The city basically gives back $2 million per year to the county in what is known as the pass-through agreement.

    So over a period of time we are talking about at least tens of millions of dollars.

    Redevelopment Agency

    Here’s a link to the budget and also the map of where the redevelopment agency has jurisdiction.

  27. Doug Paul Davis

    This is a very basic explanation based on my fuzzy memory from when Catherine Hess talked about it at the City-County two-by-two in March or April.

    The redevelopment agency gets money by claiming a large share of property tax revenue created by new developments in redevelopment areas, siphoning off funds that otherwise would go to the city general fund, county and other local government agencies.

    Now Davis takes a portion of that money and passes it through to the county in exchange for the county agreeing not to develop in certain spheres of influence. The city basically gives back $2 million per year to the county in what is known as the pass-through agreement.

    So over a period of time we are talking about at least tens of millions of dollars.

    Redevelopment Agency

    Here’s a link to the budget and also the map of where the redevelopment agency has jurisdiction.

  28. Doug Paul Davis

    This is a very basic explanation based on my fuzzy memory from when Catherine Hess talked about it at the City-County two-by-two in March or April.

    The redevelopment agency gets money by claiming a large share of property tax revenue created by new developments in redevelopment areas, siphoning off funds that otherwise would go to the city general fund, county and other local government agencies.

    Now Davis takes a portion of that money and passes it through to the county in exchange for the county agreeing not to develop in certain spheres of influence. The city basically gives back $2 million per year to the county in what is known as the pass-through agreement.

    So over a period of time we are talking about at least tens of millions of dollars.

    Redevelopment Agency

    Here’s a link to the budget and also the map of where the redevelopment agency has jurisdiction.

  29. Rich Rifkin

    “The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street.”

    Sharla,

    What is your source on that claim?

    My recollection from the presentation to the HRMC is that the little theater in the back will seat 60 people. That is magnitudes smaller than the theaters at 5th & G.

    “The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.”

    That isn’t “the other option.” The other option is to allow it to remain just as it is right now: a financially viable art house theater.

    Keep in mind, there is nothing stopping the proprietors from show two different films in one evening. They could, for example, present Film A at 5:00 and 7:00 pm and Film B at 9:00 and 11:00 pm. The following week, they could move Film A to the later times and bring in Film C for the 5:00 and 7:00 pm showings…. Or they could do things just the way they have been doing them and making a good profit.

    Keep in mind, Sharla, we, the citizens of Davis, own the Varsity Theater. It is a Davis Landmark Resource. It is not the property of the tenants to do what they will with it. We should not allow them to ruin its aesthetics with a tunnel, not matter how you want to spin it.

    P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.

  30. Rich Rifkin

    “The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street.”

    Sharla,

    What is your source on that claim?

    My recollection from the presentation to the HRMC is that the little theater in the back will seat 60 people. That is magnitudes smaller than the theaters at 5th & G.

    “The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.”

    That isn’t “the other option.” The other option is to allow it to remain just as it is right now: a financially viable art house theater.

    Keep in mind, there is nothing stopping the proprietors from show two different films in one evening. They could, for example, present Film A at 5:00 and 7:00 pm and Film B at 9:00 and 11:00 pm. The following week, they could move Film A to the later times and bring in Film C for the 5:00 and 7:00 pm showings…. Or they could do things just the way they have been doing them and making a good profit.

    Keep in mind, Sharla, we, the citizens of Davis, own the Varsity Theater. It is a Davis Landmark Resource. It is not the property of the tenants to do what they will with it. We should not allow them to ruin its aesthetics with a tunnel, not matter how you want to spin it.

    P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.

  31. Rich Rifkin

    “The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street.”

    Sharla,

    What is your source on that claim?

    My recollection from the presentation to the HRMC is that the little theater in the back will seat 60 people. That is magnitudes smaller than the theaters at 5th & G.

    “The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.”

    That isn’t “the other option.” The other option is to allow it to remain just as it is right now: a financially viable art house theater.

    Keep in mind, there is nothing stopping the proprietors from show two different films in one evening. They could, for example, present Film A at 5:00 and 7:00 pm and Film B at 9:00 and 11:00 pm. The following week, they could move Film A to the later times and bring in Film C for the 5:00 and 7:00 pm showings…. Or they could do things just the way they have been doing them and making a good profit.

    Keep in mind, Sharla, we, the citizens of Davis, own the Varsity Theater. It is a Davis Landmark Resource. It is not the property of the tenants to do what they will with it. We should not allow them to ruin its aesthetics with a tunnel, not matter how you want to spin it.

    P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.

  32. Rich Rifkin

    “The theater in the back will not be any smaller than the theaters at the new movie theater on G Street.”

    Sharla,

    What is your source on that claim?

    My recollection from the presentation to the HRMC is that the little theater in the back will seat 60 people. That is magnitudes smaller than the theaters at 5th & G.

    “The other option is a split down the middle to produce two long and narrow theaters. This is how it was done in the 1970’s and it wasn’t very nice at all.”

    That isn’t “the other option.” The other option is to allow it to remain just as it is right now: a financially viable art house theater.

    Keep in mind, there is nothing stopping the proprietors from show two different films in one evening. They could, for example, present Film A at 5:00 and 7:00 pm and Film B at 9:00 and 11:00 pm. The following week, they could move Film A to the later times and bring in Film C for the 5:00 and 7:00 pm showings…. Or they could do things just the way they have been doing them and making a good profit.

    Keep in mind, Sharla, we, the citizens of Davis, own the Varsity Theater. It is a Davis Landmark Resource. It is not the property of the tenants to do what they will with it. We should not allow them to ruin its aesthetics with a tunnel, not matter how you want to spin it.

    P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.

  33. Anonymous

    “P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.”

    I tend to agree with this. I would like to see the totals for the city’s improvements, the tenants and the ‘rent’ for both the Varsity and Bistro.

    Am amazed that this interest seems to be in the minority.

  34. Anonymous

    “P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.”

    I tend to agree with this. I would like to see the totals for the city’s improvements, the tenants and the ‘rent’ for both the Varsity and Bistro.

    Am amazed that this interest seems to be in the minority.

  35. Anonymous

    “P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.”

    I tend to agree with this. I would like to see the totals for the city’s improvements, the tenants and the ‘rent’ for both the Varsity and Bistro.

    Am amazed that this interest seems to be in the minority.

  36. Anonymous

    “P.S. Someone asked for a better use for the redevelopment funds? How about we use the money to maintain the city’s historic resources. We have lost the DBH tankhouse, because the city never maintained it, ultimately destroying it by neglect. We have other cultural and architectural resources in town which need to be maintained. Let’s take care of them before we spend public money to enrich a private business.”

    I tend to agree with this. I would like to see the totals for the city’s improvements, the tenants and the ‘rent’ for both the Varsity and Bistro.

    Am amazed that this interest seems to be in the minority.

  37. 無名 - wu ming

    hmm, i’m less enthusiastic about preserving the tankhouse per se (unless they make it back into a cafe like it was back in the early 90s), but i’m not sure it’s a good idea to mess with the varsity theatre. couldn’t they add the hallway on outside? a small screen or pocket theatre in the back isn’t a problem in and of itself, so much as how it affects the aesthetics of that grand theatre room they spent the time and money restoring.

    on the subject, when are they going to get those vintage murals painted?

  38. 無名 - wu ming

    hmm, i’m less enthusiastic about preserving the tankhouse per se (unless they make it back into a cafe like it was back in the early 90s), but i’m not sure it’s a good idea to mess with the varsity theatre. couldn’t they add the hallway on outside? a small screen or pocket theatre in the back isn’t a problem in and of itself, so much as how it affects the aesthetics of that grand theatre room they spent the time and money restoring.

    on the subject, when are they going to get those vintage murals painted?

  39. 無名 - wu ming

    hmm, i’m less enthusiastic about preserving the tankhouse per se (unless they make it back into a cafe like it was back in the early 90s), but i’m not sure it’s a good idea to mess with the varsity theatre. couldn’t they add the hallway on outside? a small screen or pocket theatre in the back isn’t a problem in and of itself, so much as how it affects the aesthetics of that grand theatre room they spent the time and money restoring.

    on the subject, when are they going to get those vintage murals painted?

  40. 無名 - wu ming

    hmm, i’m less enthusiastic about preserving the tankhouse per se (unless they make it back into a cafe like it was back in the early 90s), but i’m not sure it’s a good idea to mess with the varsity theatre. couldn’t they add the hallway on outside? a small screen or pocket theatre in the back isn’t a problem in and of itself, so much as how it affects the aesthetics of that grand theatre room they spent the time and money restoring.

    on the subject, when are they going to get those vintage murals painted?

  41. Sue Greenwald

    I would like to clarify a few things.

    1) We are NOT subsidizing this project. The Varsity business partners are paying for the change through greatly increased rents over 11 years. The city owns the improvements, as well as the equipment used for the new theater, which is paid for by the Varsity business partners.

    If the theater were to go out of business, the city could lease the two theaters for much more money than we could lease one theater for.

    According to staff fiscal analysis, we are actually getting a better rate of return on our redevelopment dollars by investing in this project than by leaving the funds in the bank.

    2) The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen, and adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen. Under this scenario, the main theater will be left with about 276 seats. Currently, the main theater consists of a large center section, with between 12 and 13 seats across, and two side sections of 6 seats across each.

    This proposal would remove the three seats from the left side section that are closest to the wall, leaving three seats on the left side section, while retaining the existing six seats on the right side section., and the 12 or 13 seats from the middle section.

  42. Sue Greenwald

    I would like to clarify a few things.

    1) We are NOT subsidizing this project. The Varsity business partners are paying for the change through greatly increased rents over 11 years. The city owns the improvements, as well as the equipment used for the new theater, which is paid for by the Varsity business partners.

    If the theater were to go out of business, the city could lease the two theaters for much more money than we could lease one theater for.

    According to staff fiscal analysis, we are actually getting a better rate of return on our redevelopment dollars by investing in this project than by leaving the funds in the bank.

    2) The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen, and adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen. Under this scenario, the main theater will be left with about 276 seats. Currently, the main theater consists of a large center section, with between 12 and 13 seats across, and two side sections of 6 seats across each.

    This proposal would remove the three seats from the left side section that are closest to the wall, leaving three seats on the left side section, while retaining the existing six seats on the right side section., and the 12 or 13 seats from the middle section.

  43. Sue Greenwald

    I would like to clarify a few things.

    1) We are NOT subsidizing this project. The Varsity business partners are paying for the change through greatly increased rents over 11 years. The city owns the improvements, as well as the equipment used for the new theater, which is paid for by the Varsity business partners.

    If the theater were to go out of business, the city could lease the two theaters for much more money than we could lease one theater for.

    According to staff fiscal analysis, we are actually getting a better rate of return on our redevelopment dollars by investing in this project than by leaving the funds in the bank.

    2) The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen, and adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen. Under this scenario, the main theater will be left with about 276 seats. Currently, the main theater consists of a large center section, with between 12 and 13 seats across, and two side sections of 6 seats across each.

    This proposal would remove the three seats from the left side section that are closest to the wall, leaving three seats on the left side section, while retaining the existing six seats on the right side section., and the 12 or 13 seats from the middle section.

  44. Sue Greenwald

    I would like to clarify a few things.

    1) We are NOT subsidizing this project. The Varsity business partners are paying for the change through greatly increased rents over 11 years. The city owns the improvements, as well as the equipment used for the new theater, which is paid for by the Varsity business partners.

    If the theater were to go out of business, the city could lease the two theaters for much more money than we could lease one theater for.

    According to staff fiscal analysis, we are actually getting a better rate of return on our redevelopment dollars by investing in this project than by leaving the funds in the bank.

    2) The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen, and adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen. Under this scenario, the main theater will be left with about 276 seats. Currently, the main theater consists of a large center section, with between 12 and 13 seats across, and two side sections of 6 seats across each.

    This proposal would remove the three seats from the left side section that are closest to the wall, leaving three seats on the left side section, while retaining the existing six seats on the right side section., and the 12 or 13 seats from the middle section.

  45. Anonymous

    To Sue Greenwald: Can you provide data for the recouping of 750K over 11 yrs. What is the annual rent; I thought 21K. How much increase in attendance would need to occur to recoup the 750K plus interest? What else could the money be used for and benefit more residents? parking, Davis manor, etc. etc.
    thanks.

  46. Anonymous

    To Sue Greenwald: Can you provide data for the recouping of 750K over 11 yrs. What is the annual rent; I thought 21K. How much increase in attendance would need to occur to recoup the 750K plus interest? What else could the money be used for and benefit more residents? parking, Davis manor, etc. etc.
    thanks.

  47. Anonymous

    To Sue Greenwald: Can you provide data for the recouping of 750K over 11 yrs. What is the annual rent; I thought 21K. How much increase in attendance would need to occur to recoup the 750K plus interest? What else could the money be used for and benefit more residents? parking, Davis manor, etc. etc.
    thanks.

  48. Anonymous

    To Sue Greenwald: Can you provide data for the recouping of 750K over 11 yrs. What is the annual rent; I thought 21K. How much increase in attendance would need to occur to recoup the 750K plus interest? What else could the money be used for and benefit more residents? parking, Davis manor, etc. etc.
    thanks.

  49. Rich Rifkin

    “The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen…”

    It’s the left side, FWIW.

    “adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen.”

    Sue, we were told by Ann Brunette 60 seats. It’s possible I am remembering that wrong. Are you certain of your 100 seat figure? Either way, it’s very small.

  50. Rich Rifkin

    “The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen…”

    It’s the left side, FWIW.

    “adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen.”

    Sue, we were told by Ann Brunette 60 seats. It’s possible I am remembering that wrong. Are you certain of your 100 seat figure? Either way, it’s very small.

  51. Rich Rifkin

    “The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen…”

    It’s the left side, FWIW.

    “adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen.”

    Sue, we were told by Ann Brunette 60 seats. It’s possible I am remembering that wrong. Are you certain of your 100 seat figure? Either way, it’s very small.

  52. Rich Rifkin

    “The project proposes removing about 33 seats from the far right hand aisle as you look toward the screen…”

    It’s the left side, FWIW.

    “adding about 100 seats in the room behind the current screen.”

    Sue, we were told by Ann Brunette 60 seats. It’s possible I am remembering that wrong. Are you certain of your 100 seat figure? Either way, it’s very small.

  53. don shor

    If you go to Brenden Theaters in Vacaville, you will see several smaller rooms with seating in the 60-100 range, very appropriate for some films. There are entrances to various of the screens there that are tunnel-like. It all works. (They also have really comfortable seats, and a policy of announcing before each screening that cell phones aren’t allowed to be on during the film.)

  54. don shor

    If you go to Brenden Theaters in Vacaville, you will see several smaller rooms with seating in the 60-100 range, very appropriate for some films. There are entrances to various of the screens there that are tunnel-like. It all works. (They also have really comfortable seats, and a policy of announcing before each screening that cell phones aren’t allowed to be on during the film.)

  55. don shor

    If you go to Brenden Theaters in Vacaville, you will see several smaller rooms with seating in the 60-100 range, very appropriate for some films. There are entrances to various of the screens there that are tunnel-like. It all works. (They also have really comfortable seats, and a policy of announcing before each screening that cell phones aren’t allowed to be on during the film.)

  56. don shor

    If you go to Brenden Theaters in Vacaville, you will see several smaller rooms with seating in the 60-100 range, very appropriate for some films. There are entrances to various of the screens there that are tunnel-like. It all works. (They also have really comfortable seats, and a policy of announcing before each screening that cell phones aren’t allowed to be on during the film.)

  57. Sue Greenwald

    Regarding the repayment analysis: It is spelled out in the staff report which you can find by going to the city web site (cityofdavis.org) and clicking “city council and commissions” and then clicking on city council and then clicking on Oct. 16 packet.

    Regarding the number number of seats in the smaller theater, I was told that it will be around 100. This would be a decent sized crowd for a movie, I should think.

    And yes, of course, the 3 seats will be removed from the left side of the theater.

  58. Sue Greenwald

    Regarding the repayment analysis: It is spelled out in the staff report which you can find by going to the city web site (cityofdavis.org) and clicking “city council and commissions” and then clicking on city council and then clicking on Oct. 16 packet.

    Regarding the number number of seats in the smaller theater, I was told that it will be around 100. This would be a decent sized crowd for a movie, I should think.

    And yes, of course, the 3 seats will be removed from the left side of the theater.

  59. Sue Greenwald

    Regarding the repayment analysis: It is spelled out in the staff report which you can find by going to the city web site (cityofdavis.org) and clicking “city council and commissions” and then clicking on city council and then clicking on Oct. 16 packet.

    Regarding the number number of seats in the smaller theater, I was told that it will be around 100. This would be a decent sized crowd for a movie, I should think.

    And yes, of course, the 3 seats will be removed from the left side of the theater.

  60. Sue Greenwald

    Regarding the repayment analysis: It is spelled out in the staff report which you can find by going to the city web site (cityofdavis.org) and clicking “city council and commissions” and then clicking on city council and then clicking on Oct. 16 packet.

    Regarding the number number of seats in the smaller theater, I was told that it will be around 100. This would be a decent sized crowd for a movie, I should think.

    And yes, of course, the 3 seats will be removed from the left side of the theater.

  61. Richard

    there is no question that the economics of distribution for films outside the mainstream necessitate small venues, the Tower Theatre in Sacramento has a small screen for them, as dos the Crest as well as the Roxie and the 4Star in San Francisco

    we are talking not just art house films, which can, in the right circumstances be profitable, but films on the periphery, films that have a more limited audience

    I have no idea whether the renovation of the Varsity is an architecturally good idea or not, but I am fairly confident that requiring non-mainstream films to be exhibited in a theatre as large as the Varsity is financial suicide

    –Richard Estes

  62. Richard

    there is no question that the economics of distribution for films outside the mainstream necessitate small venues, the Tower Theatre in Sacramento has a small screen for them, as dos the Crest as well as the Roxie and the 4Star in San Francisco

    we are talking not just art house films, which can, in the right circumstances be profitable, but films on the periphery, films that have a more limited audience

    I have no idea whether the renovation of the Varsity is an architecturally good idea or not, but I am fairly confident that requiring non-mainstream films to be exhibited in a theatre as large as the Varsity is financial suicide

    –Richard Estes

  63. Richard

    there is no question that the economics of distribution for films outside the mainstream necessitate small venues, the Tower Theatre in Sacramento has a small screen for them, as dos the Crest as well as the Roxie and the 4Star in San Francisco

    we are talking not just art house films, which can, in the right circumstances be profitable, but films on the periphery, films that have a more limited audience

    I have no idea whether the renovation of the Varsity is an architecturally good idea or not, but I am fairly confident that requiring non-mainstream films to be exhibited in a theatre as large as the Varsity is financial suicide

    –Richard Estes

  64. Richard

    there is no question that the economics of distribution for films outside the mainstream necessitate small venues, the Tower Theatre in Sacramento has a small screen for them, as dos the Crest as well as the Roxie and the 4Star in San Francisco

    we are talking not just art house films, which can, in the right circumstances be profitable, but films on the periphery, films that have a more limited audience

    I have no idea whether the renovation of the Varsity is an architecturally good idea or not, but I am fairly confident that requiring non-mainstream films to be exhibited in a theatre as large as the Varsity is financial suicide

    –Richard Estes

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