New hope for vacant San Lorenzo Theater

There’s new hope for an aging building in the East Bay— currently the San Lorenzo Theater sits empty, an old vacant rundown building.

But back in its heyday, 69-years-ago it served as a gathering place for the community until in 1982 when the theater was closed.

"There's a tremendous amount of structural reinforcement that needs to occur to this theater to be even up to a minimum standard," says Jaimie Orfanos with the Alameda County Community Development. 
We had to use flashlights and a generator to see inside.  When we did there was a lot of damage, holes in the ceiling and water stains on the walls as a result of a leaking roof. The chairs have also been removed but there is a silver lining. Most of the black light murals have little damage. Giving volunteers hope that the theater can reopen.  

"We really want people to know this isn't just some brick sitting here taking up space," says Diane Rinella with Lorenzo Theater Foundation. 10 years ago Alameda County purchased the theater, but for the last five years officials haven't been able to do anything with it. 

"Unfortunately the funding is not there with the demise of redevelopment several years ago all of our funding went away from that type of improvement," says Orfanos. 

She says it will cost up to $11 million to restore the building. From there the hope is to use the building once again as a meeting place for the community. "The lobby potentially that could be open during the day as a coffee shop. Put in some Wi-Fi and some tables and you could have multipurpose in this building," says Rinella.  "I would love it to be a performing art center again. Maybe we show movies, maybe there are concerts different things like that. That's what it really needs to be, it really needs to be reopened for the public," says Randy Waage with Save the Lorenzo. 

From noon until six on Saturday, volunteers will give tours of the theater. Outside starting at five there will be a big festival with a bounce house and a climbing wall with a movie starting at 8.