Hope­ful Hint For Queen’s Theater

MidWeek Islander (East Oahu) - - FRONT PAGE - By STEVE MUR­RAY

Looks like the old girl may have some life left af­ter all. The Friends of Queen Theater re­cently saw a break in the clouds that one day may mean the his­toric theater can open for busi­ness once again.

The theater’s owner, who has seen plans come and go and has been re­sis­tant to re­turn­ing calls, threw a nugget at the non­profit in the form of an en­cour­ag­ing word from his part­ner.

“We have talked to his trea­surer, and he said ‘Make him an of­fer he can’t refuse,’ and that is the most tan­gi­ble state­ment we have ever got­ten,” said FQT founder Nancy Wil­cox. “So I think he is open to sell­ing it if we have a le­git­i­mate of­fer for him and if he’s re­al­is­tic as well.”

Wil­cox says FQT is try­ing to de­velop the cred­i­bil­ity nec­es­sary to con­vince owner Nar­ciso Yu that they’re se­ri­ous about the project and are able to see it through. Wil­cox has a cer­tifi­cate in his­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion from the Uni­ver­sity of Hawaii and many of the other 170 sup­port­ers also are preser­va­tion­ists who con­sider the old, va­cant Wa­ialae Av­enue movie house an im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal marker that could be a neigh­bor­hood fo­cal point.

“It has such a prom­i­nent place, and it could be such an

an­chor for the busi­ness com­mu­nity,” Wil­cox said. “I know a lot of the mem­bers feel strongly it would help the evening and en­ter­tain­ment time for the area.

“Kaimuki al­ready is a pop­u­lar area. There are great restau­rants, and it’s ac­ces­si­ble to East Honolulu which doesn’t have any venues like that.”

The 850-seat theater was an en­ter­tain­ment hot spot from its open­ing in 1936 un­til the late 1970s when movies and Broad­way re­vivals were re­placed by adult films. Ex­cept for oc­ca­sional use as a stor­age site, the theater has been empty for 25 years, its once im­pres­sive fa­cade slowly giv­ing way to time and the el­e­ments.

“Ar­chi­tec­turally it was a very nice theater from the art deco pe­riod, and un­for­tu­nately it has lost a lot of its grandeur. But the struc­ture is still there, and we can cer­tainly bring that back.”

Now that Friends of Queen Theater has its non­profit sta­tus, the next step is to get the theater placed on the state registry of his­toric places and be­gin fundrais­ing to ap­praise and buy the prop­erty. Wil­cox said the tax value of the prop­erty is in ex­cess of $1 mil­lion, but Yu has not yet al­lowed any­one in­side to in­spect it.

Still, she re­mains hope­ful. “We would love to do it by her (the theater’s) 75th birth­day next June, to be able to an­nounce it (the be­gin­ning of the re­pairs) and to have a real solid plan.”

Emily and Vinh Pham spend some qual­ity fa­ther-daugh­ter time bond­ing over bows at the 20th an­nual Hawaii Hunt­ing and Fish­ing Day at the Koko Head Shoot­ing Com­plex. Par­tic­i­pants were en­cour­aged to bring in a canned do­na­tion for the Hawaii Food­bank be­fore en­joy­ing a day of archery, fish­ing games, cow­boy-ac­tion shoot­ing and other ac­tiv­i­ties. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo, ltabudlo@midweek.com.

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