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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Power & Light executives say they are looking for a new tenant after the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet yesterday announced it would keep its doors closed for good.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas Holdings, a Texas-based chain, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This allows Alamo Drafthouse to continue operating while paying off creditors. However, three of their theaters, including Kansas City on the 14th and the Main, will close permanently.
“We are saddened by the closure of Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet,” Nick Benamin, executive director of the Kansas City Power & Light District, said in a statement. “The Power & Light District is a proud steward of this iconic building, which plays a key role in the downtown Kansas City neighborhood. We are working hard to find the perfect addition to write the next chapter of this historic place, and we hope to have some exciting news about its future soon. “
While many have expressed their sadness over the news on social media, this building actually has a long history of owner rotation. The “important reminder of the golden age of the great movie palaces” is detailed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mainstreet Theater opened on October 30, 1921 as part of the Orpheum Theater Circuit. It was “hailed as the greatest of Kansas City’s luxury theaters,” at least until the Midland Theater opened six years later.
Vaudeville shows were still popular, but cinema was becoming more common. The theater, with a capacity of 3,250 seats at the time, presented a mixed vaude-film show.
The Mainstreet Theater closed in 1938 as the Great Depression strained the country. It then remained closed during World War II and until 1949.
An extensive renovation led to its reopening in 1949 as the RKO Missouri Theater. Operators used a somewhat experimental way of showing films, but the novelty faded and closed in the 1950s.
Then the Dunvood Theater Company, now American Multi Cinema (AMC), opened the Empire Theater in the early 1960s. It downsized its capacity and released blockbuster Hollywood movies. He also transformed the space into four different theaters, a design still in effect today.
However, AMC felt it “was no longer viable as a movie theater,” according to the channel’s Ron D. Leslie. The Empire closed in 1985.
Then the Alamo Drafthouse took over in 2012. The theater company, which bills itself as “the best movie, food and drink in one seat,” was known for the latest films with an increased sense of luxury.
However, the business has been strained by the coronavirus pandemic, as has much of the entertainment industry.
“We are incredibly sad to tell you that due to the continued impact of COVID, we will not be reopening Mainstreet,” the company said. “To our Kansas City area guests – thank you very much for your support over the years. “
Power & Light said it has made refilling the historic building a priority.
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