By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — Lauren Jeffries-Johnson has set another meeting for those interested in future uses of the shuttered Lincoln Theater for 5:30 p.m. today.
The gathering and discussion will be at her shop at Udjat Beads, 129 E. First St.
The Port Angeles Arts Council, which started the whole discussion, will hold its own follow-up, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 4, at Studio Bob, 118 ½ E. Front St.
More information can be found at PortAngelesArtsCouncil.com and on the arts council's Facebook page.
“People feel like they own this place,” Lauren Jeffries-Johnson said during a meeting held Wednesday night at her shop, Udjat Beads & Belly Dancing, directly across First Street from the 98-year-old theater.
Sun Basin Theatres, the Wenatchee-based company that also runs Deer Park Cinema east of Port Angeles, still owns the Lincoln.
It closed March 2 after Sun Basin general manager Bryan Cook said converting the theater to digital projection, at a cost of some $200,000, was too expensive.
Enter Rick Shaw, a former Port Angeles resident. He contacted Cook soon after the Lincoln's closure to express interest in a six- to 12-month lease to buy it.
With a non-compete clause as part of any sale or lease, Shaw couldn't show first-run movies like those seen at Deer Park.
Shaw's plan is to run older films — from the 1980s on back — and offer food, drink and Seahawks games on Sundays.
The Lincoln went on the market May 6 for $259,000, which Shaw considers not terribly high. It's less, in fact, than the median home price in King County, where he lives.
Shaw, 41, is a board-certified behavioral analyst who works with autistic and other special-needs children in the Seattle-Tacoma area.
Though he resides in Federal Way, he emphasizes his local connections: He graduated in 1991 from Port Angeles High School and worked in restaurants, including Frugal's when it first opened, before leaving for college.
Shaw's potential investment partner is Jill Hornsby, a former high school classmate with a long Lincoln history.
“Four generations of my family, including me, worked there,” Hornsby said at the Udjat Beads meeting.
Hornsby and Shaw aren't alone in their keen interest.
Dan Gase, the Lincoln's listing agent with Coldwell Banker Uptown Realty, said he's already shown the place to a handful of interested local parties.
And Charlie Smith, an architect with Lindberg and Smith in Port Angeles, said he has a client looking at it.
Gase, a Port Angeles City Council member, was among the speakers at a May 7 public forum on the theater's future. The Port Angeles Arts Council held the forum at Studio Bob, the downtown event space, and attracted about 40 artists, nonprofit organization staffers and business people.
Jeffries-Johnson was at the forum too, and sought to move the discussion forward with meetings at her store.
“We can wait for someone to buy it, and let it sit there like a big, smashed thumb in our downtown,” she said, “or we can do something.”
And so Jeffries-Johnson, who is also cofounder of the Shula Azhar dance troupe, talked with a small group of art and film lovers about turning the Lincoln into a nonprofit arts center, a home for concerts, classic movies, author readings, dance, comedy and theater.
Dan Maguire, executive director of the Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts, couldn't make it to the Udjat Beads meeting, but sent a letter outlining how this could happen.
With its 500 seats, the Lincoln would be “the missing link in this town,” Maguire wrote.
“Creating a new nonprofit 501(c)3 is relatively easy and inexpensive. Another possible approach is to piggy-back with an existing nonprofit such as the Juan de Fuca Foundation,” he added.
“The first order of business is to secure the property. If a bank would finance the purchase with a 20 percent down payment, we're probably looking at something somewhere north of $50,000,” plus the cost of hiring an architect “to develop the facility as the board of directors sees fit. About $100,000 would be needed, either as a loan or grant,” Maguire wrote.
But Shaw, when asked if he'd want to run the Lincoln as a nonprofit, said no. He and Hornsby believe the theater has good profit potential. And they don't want a board of directors looking over their shoulders.
Shaw added that his next step is to see the theater's financial documents. He wants Sun Basin's Cook to “open his books up.”
Then, if Shaw moves forward with a lease or purchase, he estimates a fall reopening.
Pat Downie, another Port Angeles City Council member, added his opinion at the end of the Udjat Beads meeting.
“The best strategy is to take control of the property,” he said.
“The sooner you get it off the market, the better. This is a timing issue.”
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.