News


Park Theatre torn down

Demolition work at the building housing the old Park Theatre, built in 1947 and closed in 2002, was underway Thursday.

Although owner Howard "Sandy" Crittenden said late last year that he was thinking about building office and retail space on the site, located at 1275 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, he told the Almanac last week that he now intends to sell the property and use the proceeds to purchase something outside the city.

(Related story: Pieces of the Park sold off as old theater prepped for final curtain.

Comments

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Posted by Boo Boo Boo!
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Booo . . .Howard Crittenden [Portion removed - avoid personal characterizations] The theater was a part of the community. Why did he not renovate the theater or incorporate it into a larger building? He could've kept the body of the theater and the facade intact while building offices above. Booo Howard. Boo says you! You are no community man.


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Posted by Sorry 'Sandy!"
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Nov 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Sorry 'Sandy'! . . .


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Posted by Menlo Park, Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

So sad to see it go, but we are all very excited for more office space to sit empty. And, really a renovated old theater is far too cool for the likes of Menlo Park. They only do that kind of thing in other cities!


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm

BooBooBoo - Do your homework before posting, please. Mr Crittenden did put forth a project for CIty approval that included utilizing the building along the lines you describe. Instead of villanizing him, you should be asking the question, why did the villagers say no and why did your elected officials nuckle under to their rants.


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Posted by Local Yokel
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm

[Portion removed. Please stop piling on with hearsay comments.] Shame on Menlo Park for letting this happen.


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Posted by Peninsula Reader
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Nov 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Crittenden started by secretly removing the sign, then let sit for 10 years so he could do exactly what he wanted. Tear a piece of history down. 10 years was the magic number he needed to move forward with his destruction. Heartless person he is. Sneaky person and glad I don't know him.


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Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Don't feed greed: Boycott Crittenden's new office building, his retirement nest egg. No sense of community is right! A piece of Menlo Park history gone forever. : (


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Posted by Howard Crittenden
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

If the city of Menlo Park has been cooperative and willing to work with me on any of my proposals, the Park Theater would still be here today. The building would have had a restored front with the sign, marquis and ticket booth looking new. The building would have had a new use 12 years ago. After 14 years and over $400k, demolition was my last/best option.


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Posted by Sherri
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Why was there no public notice about the planning process over the last 10 years? If Mr. Crittenden truly wanted to restore the front of the building as he just described, Menlo Park residents could have attended planning meetings and talked to the city council. The outcome would have been quite different. It's shocking that the first notice we get is that the demolition is beginning.


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Posted by Sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm

If Mr. Crittendon truly cared about the City of Menlo Park and the historical significance of the Park Theater to his neighbors he would have embarked on a project that would please both entities. Instead he went directly against the instructions of the then-City Council and removed the marquee. After a ten year wait, he finished the destruction. Boo. Hiss.
Maybe he could donate the marquee to the Menlo Park Historical Association ...?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Mr. Crittendon:

While you have every right to develop your property I might put more stock in what you say if you hadn't torn the marquee off the building without permission years ago. If you had left it in place I might believe you really wanted to "restored front with the sign, marquis and ticket booth looking new."

Given you planned on restoring the marquis, why tear it off the building? Where is it now?


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Posted by Not Buying it
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2013 at 5:12 am

Mr. Crittenden: I am not familiar with all the discussions and development attempts regarding the theatre. I also would not expect a private owner to hold onto a property forever if the economics were declining. However, I was very disappointed as a resident to drive by with my kids to see the shuttered theatre during this extended "down time". Obviously, it was quite an eyesore for our town. Even if it had the same ultimate fate, a fresh facade with a marquis that had a "welcome to Menlo park", or some other message, would have been a nice, classic touch for a modest cost. One suggestion though is for your development to somehow incorporate the original neon sign, or some other nod to the theatre and the past. It could be incorporated into the design in a way that enhances the area and reminds generations what once was there. Probably makes the building even more desirable for tenants as well, if it is a new classic.


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Posted by historic loss
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

The best part of the Park Theater was the interior. It was beautiful. Soon after the exterior was damaged by Mr. Crittendon's partial removal of the sign, the interior was allowed to deteriorate with water damage and mold.
Other theaters have been renovated into lovely dining and entertainment sites. But the owner just wanted an office building.
The city allowed the building to remain ugly, and now the property owner is rewarded by getting even more square footage for offices because of the el camino specific plan's generous new rules that don't allow public input about what goes into the project. So now a beautiful historic interior is lost forever to offices. Just what a vibrant community needs. Ha!


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Posted by old timers
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm

What Menlo Park residents should be outraged about is that no public notice was given on the granting of a demolition permit. Staff, for some reason, (who knows what goes on behind closed doors), suddenly decided it was now ok to allow its destruction.

Crittenden has many friends in the City Administration, and despite, many years ago, without permits, he illegally removed the marquee, he has now gotten his wishes. Now just what will the City allow him to build?

The brings back another lousy decision from City Staff, made behind closed doors, and that was the demolition permit granted to Roxy Rapp for his project at 64 Willow:

link: Web Link

That project, which started out as a renovation, was allowed to escape all kinds of needed permits and oversight,which a new project would have demanded, when the City allowed Rapp to demolish the existing structure, when Rapp claimed further inspection revealed that renovation wouldn't work.

These land owners and developers have many friends in our City's administration, they get away with all kinds of violations.




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Posted by blame game
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 11, 2013 at 9:41 am

and Mr. C., looks to blame the City of MP when, in fact, the buck stops with him only. This was simple disregard for the city and residents of Menlo Park. Unfortunately, his name will forever be associated with this failure, despite attempts to blame others.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 11, 2013 at 10:04 am

"...in fact the buck stops with him (Mr. C.) only" Dead Wrong! Since no one seems to like to do homework, I'll make it a bit easier. Google Park Theatre Melo Park and click on an article from the MP Patch dated April 15, 2011 titled Final Scene for Old Park Theatre. In that article you read about efforts between 2007 and 2009 by Mr. C, some private investors, some members of the then CIty COuncil to put together a couple of different deals that would have restored the theatre. THe article goes on to explain why these failed; one too costly, and two, the villagers rose up and screamed foul, even making noise to recall the council members who supported the idea. And for the record, I do not know Mr. C, have never met the man, but it really irks me when people get villanized undeservedly; likely by some who were part of the problem in the first place. Take five minutes and read the article folks.


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Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

"Old Timers" speaks of Roxy's project at 64 Willow Road. The 2007 Almanac article attached to the link includes a quote from me at the time:

"Stu Soffer, a former planning commissioner, and a Linfield Oaks resident who has been outspoken against past development plans for the neighborhood, said he isn't too worried about the project.

"I'm not bent out of shape about this, but I see why others are," he said. "After reading the staff report last year, I didn't think a total demolition was what was in the cards. ... But Roxy Rapp builds good projects, and I'm assuming the end project will be what was originally proposed.""

Indeed, what was built was the originally proposed project.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm

I too am sad to see the Park Theater go, but I'm also disappointed to see the lack of architectural quality in recently constructed office buildings along this section of El Camino Real. The one at El Camino / Watkins looks hideous, and has been vacant since it was completed a few years ago. The one that's almost completed at El Camino / Buckthorn doesn't look any better.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Mike:

I must disagree regarding the building at ECR and Buckthorn. It is infinitely better than the building at Watkins. It has more of the feeling of the building at Encinal. You should have seen what the previous developer originally proposed for the Buckthorn location. Hint: it was the same develop and architect for the Watkins building.


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Posted by wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Who -- Strong developers find a way to get it done. There can always be resistance in any meaningful project or development. Even with its challenges, at a minimum the owner could have maintained the building in a way that respected its history. Over now and time to move on.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 11, 2013 at 5:28 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

yes, sad but over


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2013 at 10:06 am

@wrong - I do agree that the owner shouldn't have let the place go like he did, and I also believe he should have been held more accountable when he had the sign removed back in 2002. My only issue was to let those posting who might not have been aware that the circumstances surrounding how it came to the point of demolition and that others have a stake in the blame, not just the owner. If we forget history, we're likely to repeat it.


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Posted by sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Where is the marquee? Is it available for sale? Perhaps a new, public location could be found. That might help erase the sad feelings that the citizens of Menlo Park are experiencing. Mr Crittendon ... ???


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm

@sad - sad to say that the marquee was taken down in bits & pieces, broken up and put on a flat bed truck for disposal.


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Posted by sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm

The extent of Mr. Crittendon's destruction is unbelievable. You truly appreciate your community by caring about and preserving its history.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm

sad:

sometimes an old building is just an old building. It is my understanding that there was an attempt to have the theatre listed as an historic building, but it was not found to be historic.


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Posted by sad
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Maybe the building was too old to be saved. Certainly it was in irreparable shape after it was left to deteriorate in the elements after the marquee was unlawfully removed from its facade. However, the marquee had value before its removal and could have been installed at another location for the enjoyment and education of the citizens of Menlo Park. It is sad that that opportunity was not seized by Mr. Crittendon.


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Posted by Local Yokel
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Kepler's wanted to move into that space but Howard Crittendon demanded a crazy price for the building. Don't believe him when he said he had no options but to tear it down.


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Posted by Just curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 22, 2013 at 10:35 am

To the Almanac staff, while walking past the old theater site I noticed that the property is now for sale. I thought it was going to be developed by Mr. Crittendon? Am I incorrect?


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