The Fox Theatre is known as "The Place To Go" in the city, and it's one of the most recognizable buildings.
But the West Side's only movie theater in in danger of being shut down unless someone steps forward to buy the building by the end of the week.
A foreclosure auction for the historic building is set for Friday unless an investor steps forward to initiate a purchase of the building, which houses the movie theater as well as apartments and several businesses on Center Street.
"Most communities would love to have a theater as an anchor tenant, especially one that's had millions of dollars in restoration," Paul Joyce, a realtor for RE/MAX Gold Coast, said.
"[Foreclosure] would leave a gutted building downtown, which would be a worst-case scenario because this building virtually takes up most of the main street of Taft."
The Fox Theatre has been running in some form since the 1920's, and is currently the only movie theater on the West Side that screens new releases.
Given the theater's iconic history, it is a cornerstone for Taft's downtown redevelopment efforts.
"It's the main anchor business of our downtown area, and with all the development that we plan to go on downtown, losing the Fox Theatre cannot be replaced," Fred Schell, executive director of the Taft Chamber of Commerce, said.
Aside from keeping Taft and nearby residents from driving to Bakersfield to catch the latest flick, residents consider their Fox to be a cultural icon that deserves to be preserved for future generations.
"I'm kind of nervous about it, possibly losing my job, and losing the theater for Taft," Anthony Lampkin, the theater's manager, said. "It's the only place in Taft to go see a movie and pretty much the focal point of downtown Center Street."
At an asking price of $849,000, Joyce says it coul be a bargain for a local investor to operate the theater. The purchase price would include only the building, while the search is on for someone to invest in operating the movie theater.
"It's a viable investment, and the beauty of having somebody locally is that they can take and operate this thing with their blood, sweat and tears," he said. "There's just endless possibilities that a local operator could do in this situation and also not to mention helping the city and the community."
The foreclosure auction could be delayed if an investor for the building is found. Otherwise, the building is set to be auctioned off at Taft City Hall on Friday.
If a reserve price is not met, the bank would maintain ownership of the building. The theater operators would then likely remove the movie equipment within 90 days, and the bank would board up the theater and two currently vacant business lots on the property.
For more information, you can contact Joyce at (805) 218-1686.
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