Alamo South Lamar Plans an Intermission, and Other Theater Development News


Alamo S Lamar Redevelopment Plan by Michael Hsu Office of Architecture

The land sale has been in the works for a while, and yesterday it became official: Lamar Plaza, which houses Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar and The Highball, has been purchased by Greystar developers. This likely multi-million dollar deal (the final sale price hasn't been released) means the current surface lot and one-story shops setup are going bye-bye.  Of more interest to filmgoers such as you and I are the implications of this sale as far as the Alamo theatre and The Highball are concerned.

The news is mixed. The Alamo South Lamar and Highball will be sticking around, although not in their current formations. The Highball, where my friends and I sing karaoke during happy hour every now and then, will close November 17 to be re-worked. When the new Highball opens in mid-to-late 2013, gone will be the vintage bowling lanes. There will still be a bar, stage and private karaoke rooms -- along with the addition of open-air seating. The new Highball will sit adjacent to the theater.

The South Lamar theater will close in January 2013 for about nine months, and this will likely throw some event planners and moviegoers for a loop. Regular series (such as Austin Film Society screenings) that usually show at the Lamar location will probably relocate to either the Ritz or Village locations. If you prefer watching summer blockbusters at the Alamo, you'll have to head to the Slaughter, Village, or Lake Creek locations ... or learn to love other Austin movie theaters.

The biggest concern for many filmgoers in town is that the South Lamar location has been a major SXSW Film venue in past years, with two or three screens devoted to the festival. This will obviously not be an option for the 2013 festival. What would the alternate options be? Nothing promising leaps to mind.

When it re-opens in third quarter 2013, the updated Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar theater will have a larger lobby and three more screens. Alamo founder and CEO Tim League says, "As much as I love the current shopping center, the redevelopment of South Lamar Plaza will enable us to execute much-needed lobby renovations and increase the parking capacity for the complex ... I feel that after a brief closure we will re-open with the best Alamo Drafthouse yet."

Bull Creek proposalThat's not the only movie-theater/development news brewing in Austin right now. Some neighborhood associations in north central Austin are reviewing a proposal regarding upcoming land development along 45th at Bull Creek in Central/Northwest Austin.

A preliminary proposal from Stratus Properties for the currently-state-owned land includes plans for "an Alamo or similar movie theatre." A letter from Stratus to the Ridgelea Neighborhood assocation says, "We also envision an Alamo Drafthouse, Violet Crown or Studio Movie Grill type theater, although discussions with specific operators have just begun."

Here's a PDF with more information about the proposed development. Obviously it's early days yet on this possible development, but we'll keep you posted. You might also keep an eye on the Allandale Reporter website if you're interested.

[Drafthouse image courtesy Michael Hsu Office of Architecture; Bull Creek development concept drawing courtesy of Allandale Reporter]

Alamo S. Lamar Renovations

Austin Film Society weekly Essential Cinema (Tuesday nights) and monthly Doc Nights will most likely move to the Alamo Village during the nine months of renovations.

Essential Cinemas/Tuesday Nights

If there is any wiggle room here two of your biggest fans are hoping AFS reconsiders the move to the Alamo Village during this time. For 9 months...YIKES! Please be fair to us South Austin die hard fans and at least split it up between the Ritz downtown and Alamo Village up north. We will miss this important and intelligent feature in our film loving lives. What will I write blog posts about? Who will I bring cookies to on Tuesday nights?

I think we (AFS)

I think we (Austin Film Society) should ask our members via an email later this month. Putting each series into a different Alamo doesn't sound like a bad idea. Alamo Slaughter unfortunately doesn't have 35mm projection, so only a digital series could be there. I will discuss this internally and then we will send out an email asking order of preference for the 9-month hiatus from S. Lamar: Ritz, Village, Slaughter [digital only].

Thanks Chale. Sounds fair.

Thanks Chale. Sounds fair.

another alternative?

or split it between the Village and Slaughter?