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[whitespace] United Artists Cinemas bids the Pruneyard a reluctant farewell

Campbell--United Artists Pruneyard Cinemas, one of the first tenants of The Pruneyard long before it became the bustling center it is today, announced last week that it will be vacating the commercial center it helped anchor after 30 years of business.

Open since Dec. 25, 1969, the theater will officially close on Tuesday, June 15. According to Roger Leclerc, manager of Development and Asset Disposition for the Western Region at the UA corporate offices in Englewood, Colo., the matter of closing the UA Pruneyard, whose 30-year lease was coming to an end, had been in analysis for a year.

"[The decision] was very painful," said Leclerc, who in the last weeks, filtered news of the closure down to the district manager in Fresno and then the management at the UA Pruneyard. "We maintained that theater over our losses because we thought it was a good market. The lease came to a conclusion; we had some options. However, we felt the industry has moved beyond this theater here."

Within that year, Leclerc and his colleagues discussed a variety of those options, including relocating or expanding the property in an attempt to stay in the market. However the company hasn't found any properties close to the area to relocate the UA Pruneyard, he says.

"Should an opportunity come up, we'd be happy to look at [the property]," Leclerc said. "We'd like to establish ourselves in the market."

Expansion and renovation also never panned out, given the location's already tight fit.

"This one here happens to be a very small multiplex theater," Leclerc said of the three-theater complex. Leclerc said the closing "is the result of the development of theaters into megaplexes that have stadium seating and digital sound. This property unfortunately is a size that doesn't lend itself to be renovated into that kind of product, because megaplexes put us into a situation where we couldn't compete in a small theater like [UA Pruneyard]."

As of this press date, no new tenant has been found for the space occupied by the UA Pruneyard, according to Jeanne Shook-Arterberry of Wilson Cornerstone, which manages The Pruneyard.

UA Pruneyard's sudden exit is already felt by the community. "It's very sad to see it go," said Ron Szalay, the Almaden Cinema 5 house manager who has already received applications from displaced UA employees. "It's sad because it was the way it was."
Genevieve Roja

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