What Should Go Here: Fox Theater

The theater has been closed for three years; how could the space be re-purposed?

The Fox Theater in downtown Watsonville is an eye-catching landmark, but it's been shuttered since 2009.

In a town with one concert venue (the Mello Center), one art gallery (Pajaro Valley Arts Council) and one movie theater (Green Valley Cinemas), surely this arts-focused building at Main and Maple streets could be reborn into a creative, useful space for residents.

What do you think should go here?

And, just for fun, here are some facts about the old theater.

  • When it closed, it was one of Santa Cruz County's oldest movie theaters.
  • It was originally built in 1924, complete with a balcony and over 1,000 seats.
  • The Pajaro Valley Arts Council once had an interest in the theater and many concerts were held there in the 1980s and '90s.
  • The lobby was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Learn more about the theater's history on this website.

Patch readers have offered lots of strong opinions and creative ideas about how to fill vacancies around town. Check out other "What Should Go Here?" topics here.


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Watzon McWats November 01, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I'd love to see it re-open as a movie theater again, perhaps with more of an indy film slant. All of the counties big screen indy films are shown 30 minutes away in Downtown Santa Cruz. Our town's own movie (exit 426) wasn't even shown in town. I'm probably dreaming though. Next would be a swank date night quality film-themed restaurant.
Jennifer Squires November 01, 2012 at 07:51 PM
The bar stools and tables make me wish it were a cozy restaurant/coffee shop that I could spend rainy afternoons holed up with my computer, Patching away.
Metric November 01, 2012 at 09:31 PM
I was just talking about the space a few weeks back with some relatives. Having visited the space in the 90's for performances and subsequently visiting it frequently to watch movies, I loved that I could get a decent pizza and take it into the theater. While I would love to see it return to a movie theater I cant see how it could be profitable in today's market. I would ask if the restaurant is apart of the theater or separate business? One thing I remember quite well was the two smaller theaters they had built into the balcony and how much of a hike it was to get up to them. I would imagine any major renovation or updates to the building would run into major ADA issues. Ultimatly I would see the best use of the building as a mixed use. If a new owner could keep the grandeur of the main theater and develop the space into a entertainment area for major businesses, music venue and movie theater. The addition of the next door restaurant would serve as a catering venue. I believe having more than just one use for the space would create a unique calendar of event in a prime downtown space.
jesus martinez November 02, 2012 at 02:08 AM
i think they should make like a nightclub for teenagers no alcohol because here in watsonville theres nothing like that probably thats the reason theres too much violence because theres nothing to entertain them and thats why a lot of people go clubing to other places cause theres no clubs here
Mr GaGa November 02, 2012 at 04:03 AM
Zero money in entertaining teenagers. The money is in the 17+ crowd that drinks liquor and beer. No money, no fun. Santa Cruz has a few good places that caters to high school kids,
Metric November 02, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I would have to agree with Mr GaGa. As a former restaurant owner, your profit will ultimately be driven by adult crowds and liquor sales. Having a great food program will keep your place in peoples minds and liquor sales will come automatically. I guess one question I have is if the space is actually for sale/lease? The location could cater to youth events if it was utilized in a multifunction property. There are some major domestic and international businesses here in Watsonville who have conferences in Santa Cruz and Monterey because there is below average facilities in town. One location that comes to mind is the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. They keep the tradition of the building with a good business aspect keeping it busy all the time. I have been to a number of times for major concerts to company cocktail hours. http://www.regencycentersf.com/regency-ballroom/
Juan Reyes November 02, 2012 at 05:05 AM
I always thought it would be a good idea to show the latest films in Spanish, that way the Latino community can watch the movie and understand the dialogue at the same time. From what I know there isn't a theatre like it around, it would give people a chance to watch blockbuster movies on the big screen in their own language. Just a suggestion.
Juan Reyes November 02, 2012 at 05:09 AM
Or if they don't have the film in Spanish, show it with subtitles.
regina bartlett November 02, 2012 at 05:33 AM
I think a Community Theater is the best use for the Fox Theater. This was done in Hollister and the Community Theater there has wonderful productions that include all ages of people and all nationalities.I have gone to many of their productions. It's just wonderful. If the Fox Theater's going to be used for the Community of Watsonville...we need to look at the bigger picture and find a solution to what is keeping us all separate and not unified. This theater could be a great opportunity for Watsonville. We have Cabrillo, We have health spas, We have Schools, We have people here who have nothing to do...so they get into trouble. Let's act it up! If Luis Valdez could make Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista succesful, Why can't we? We need something better for all of us. A Community Theater would include all ages and be something wonderful.
Lucas November 02, 2012 at 06:45 AM
How about an ICE office?
Hawkins November 02, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Anything to get kids off the street and into a positive environment. An all ages (no booze) coffee shop with live music where local talents can be show cased would be great. You could have stand up comedy, serve local foods from local farms, provide jobs for teens, play movies, etc.
Rebecca Tait November 02, 2012 at 05:08 PM
A couple shuffleboard courts would be swell!
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