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[whitespace] Oaks Theatre gets reprieve as Andronico's withdraws

Cupertino--The Oaks Theatre just received a stay of execution.

The Andronico's Market chain had planned to take the space currently occupied by the theater, as well as that of a dance school and an unused restaurant, demolish it, and replace it with a 32,160 square foot upscale grocery store, complete with a cooking school. Now, however, the Bay Area company that began in Berkeley has withdrawn its request, citing delays in the construction of its new location in downtown Walnut Creek.

That gives the popular discount movie theatre a new lease on life. The lease can end at anytime, however, just as soon as the Oaks Shopping Center finds another store to move into the space. Until that happens, the theatre will remain in operation, according to Reed Bennett, general manager for the Oaks Shopping Center.

"Yes, they will continue to operate under lease," he said, although he declined to discuss the specifics of that lease.

President and CEO of Andronico's, Bill Andronico, said the company had looked forward to becoming a part of Cupertino. "Cupertino is one of those communities that we look at as being very attractive," he said.

However, because of the company's resources, it can't afford an attempt to open two new locations simultaneously, he says. The landlord at the Oaks Center "has been very accommodating," he said. "But we got to the point where the landlord couldn't hang on any longer; we couldn't accelerate Walnut Creek, and as a result, here we are."

"It was most unfortunate that Andronico's couldn't come," Bennett said. The center has other ideas about what to do with the property, however. "There were already others who had expressed interest in the same site," he said. "We have had some additional inquiries from potential tenants."

Just how long the Oaks can remain in business depends on which tenant the shopping center strikes a deal with, according to Bennett. One store could move faster than another, or have different uses in mind that might make it easier to clear the approval process.

Whatever happens, the theater's days are numbered. Bennett considers the theatre a prime piece of real estate, and believes there should have no trouble quickly filling the spot left open by the withdrawal of Andronico's.

"It's unfortunate that things didn't go as we predicted, but we are committed to moving forward with the project," he said.
Kevin Fayle

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