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Marin Movie Fans in Mourning

Columnist: Bill Meagher
March, 2016 Issue
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Bill Meagher
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Scandinavian will end up sitting on any project for a while anyway, which makes sense on a few levels.

 
If you’re a movie fan in Marin, life keeps getting tougher. The Century Cinema Theater—and the two-acre property that goes with it in Corte Madera—was recently sold to Scandinavian Designs Inc., while the only movie house in Sausalito, the CineArts Theater, has shut its doors.
 
Scandinavian Designs, which has 23 stores in California, Nevada, Minnesota and Colorado, plans to close its location on Fourth Street in San Rafael and open a brand new store on Tamal Vista Boulevard, which currently glows like a nuclear reactor because of the much hated multi-use Tam Ridge Residence project still being developed where the Win-Cup factory used to be. And just around the corner, the Corte Madera Inn is spending some time in the penalty box because of Reneson Hotel’s plans to tear down the 110-room hotel and replace it with two hotels with 185 rooms in total.
 
Corte Madera residents feel Tam Ridge is too large and will generate too much traffic, while residents seemingly think new hotels would be too large and would generate too much traffic.
 
I could be wrong, but we may have a theme developing here.
 
Since the Tamal Vista corridor is a hot zone, the town has a moratorium on development in the area and an ongoing corridor study, so Scandinavian will end up sitting on any project for a while anyway, which makes sense on a few levels. The Petaluma-based retailer wants to give residents a chance to tire themselves out chasing Tam Ridge and Reneson around, so perhaps the residents might not be so upset about another Tamal Vista project. Moreover, the city of San Rafael has worked hard to make Fourth Street a desirable retail location, and Scandinavian Design opened its first store there in 1963. City officials can’t be happy with the upcoming vacancy. On the other hand, the space should generate a fair amount of interest.
 
Corte Madera residents began gathering signatures last year hoping to prevent the theater from closing, and that petition will be presented at some point to the Town Council. But the property is zoned commercial, and the reality is that a furniture palace will generate less traffic than the theater. And no matter how many signatures are on that petition, Scandinavian Designs spent a bit more than $5 million buying the theater. The best residents can hope for is that the new sofa emporium is tasteful.
 
In Sausalito, CineArts had been struggling for a while and closed the theater in late January. While Texas-based Cinemark Holdings doesn’t own the building, it does own everything inside. The company plans on gutting the place so that the San Francisco family that owns the building won’t be able to do much with it until that process is over.
 
The Caledonia Street location has been a movie theater since World War II.
 
Last year, the Fairfax 6 Theater announced plans to sell beer and wine to pump up its bottom line. That news was greeted with a protest from members of neighboring San Anselmo’s Town Council and others. The Fairfax theaters are owned by Petaluma-based Cinema West, which also owns the Tiburon Playhouse. That movie house already has a permit to sell booze along with its popcorn.
 
Cinemark Holdings also owns the CineArts Sequoia in Mill Valley, Century Theaters owns the Century Larkpsur as well as the Century Rowland in Novato and the Century Northgate in San Rafael. San Rafael’s Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center and the Lark Theater in Larkspur are owned by nonprofit organizations.
 

Your Marin moment

Sausalito resident Neal Gotlieb, owner of Three Twins Ice Cream, is about to be a TV star, of sorts. Gotlieb, who began his frozen desert company in San Rafael, can be found on the tube in the long-standing reality show “Survivor,” which airs on CBS. The 32nd season of the adventure series was filmed in Cambodia over 39 days last spring.
 
Gotlieb, who started his ice cream brand on a $95,000 shoestring, has been placed on the “Brains” team, competing against “Brawn” and “Beauty” teams. The CBS online publicity offers us these insights as to how Gotlieb will compete. “I will excel at both the social and physical game. Much of my life has prepared me to be a great contestant. Being a fan has shown me some brilliant moves and, perhaps more important, stupid ones to avoid. More than anything, I believe I’ll be the sole Survivor because I want to and I usually get what I want, no matter how hard I have to work for it.”
 
Right there are a couple much beloved Marin values—getting what you want and working hard for it, though not always in that order.  

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