The Amador Theater on the campus of Amador Valley High School is sinking and major foundation and other restoration work will be needed within the next five-to-10 years for it to continue as a performing arts facility in Pleasanton.
Kathy Yurchak, the city's assistant director of Operations Services, told the City Council Tuesday that construction work that expanded the 80-year-old theater building in the late 1980s apparently was flawed. In recent years, the newer part of the theater building has started settling.
"The front facade is sinking, requiring us to rework doors so that they close and to make other repairs," she said. "Right now, the facility is in operating condition, but if we want to continue using it over the long term, we will have to make major repairs."
Her remarks came during a special meeting of the council to consider budget and operating priorities during the next two fiscal years. The council had moved to line item "Amador Theater Improvements" on p. 9 of 15 pages of priorities when Yurchak stressed the importance of structural needs at the theater.
She also pointed out that the repairs needed could be costly, possibly in the millions of dollars, because the building, although owned by the city, sits on the school district's property. As a result, any repairs would trigger compliance to the same current statewide standards affecting school construction, which would likely mean a complete seismic retrofitting of the main theater building as well as the newer lobby and front end.
The Amador Theater served as Pleasanton's principal performing arts facility since it was constructed in the late 1930's until the city's Firehouse Arts Center was opened in 2012. Even now, with its seating capacity about double what the Firehouse can hold, the Amador Theater continues to host numerous concerts, musicals, recitals and school plays.
The structural problem apparently dates back to its expansion and renovation that was completed in 1989 when the city of Pleasanton took ownership of the building, but not the land it sits on, from the Pleasanton School District. In 1989, a major renovation of the theater was completed.
The Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council at that time spearheaded a fundraising drive, raising $800,000 in cash and in-kind materials, with the city government paying the rest of the $1.2 million needed in total funding. As part of its agreement in taking ownership, the city allots 60 days a year for school performances and other uses.
At Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Nelson Fialho said the Amador Theater is still used frequently and is still needed despite the availability of the Firehouse theater. At one time, he said, the thought was to move everything over to the Firehouse, but cultural arts planners soon realized that many of their most cherished productions -- and fundraisers -- required the 600-seat capacity that the Amador Theater offers, compared to the 220 seats at the Firehouse.
Council members agreed Tuesday to hold off on prioritizing repair work to the Amador Theater until an analysis can be completed as to what upgrades would be needed and at what cost.