Event Summary – Playhouse District Tour

January 1, 2016 in 2015 | Comments (0)

This is a summary of a previous SCPC event,
from September 26, 2015. 


The Pasadena Playhouse District

Special Saturday Morning Tour




The Playhouse District Association (PDA), a non-profit corporation formed in 1995, is dedicated to managing and marketing Pasadena’s Playhouse District. In 2001, a coalition of PDA members, property owners and business owners formed a Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID). The PBID pools private dollars to fund activities and services in the 32-block Playhouse District which is governed by an eleven-member board of directors representing the District’s property owners, businesses and institutions.


 Playhouse Facade

The Pasadena Playhouse,
from the Vroman’s/Laemmle’s Courtyard 


The Pasadena Playhouse, the area’s core landmark , closed in 1969, as part of a bankruptcy and did not reopen until 1986. The City bought the Playhouse during that long closure. Other changes came over the year. The JW Robinsons department store closed in 1990, replaced by the area’s first urban two-story Target in 1993. In 1995, the Streetscape and Walkways Plan was adopted. Then, in 2001, the Business Improvement District was formed.


 Area Wayfinding Sign

An Area Wayfinding Sign for Pedestrians


Within the District, thirty-five buildings are on the National Register. Little or no parking is provided on these building sites, due to the era in which they were built. The City provides 200 spaces in parking lots, but the District is 1,100 spaces short on parking, if Code requirements were enforced on all grandfathered uses. The District needs more parking to support more street frontage and evening uses to enliven the pedestrian environment, but a competing factor for open land where it exists, is the need for park space. There are no public parks within the District.


 Sidewalk Retail

Sidewalk Retail and Restaurants


Sidewalk Retail

More Sidewalk Retail and Restaurants


Sidewalk Newstand

The Sidewalk Newsstand at Vroman’s Bookstore


Vroman's Courtyard

The Courtyard at Vroman’s


The California State Theater was formed in 1937, then the designation was later moved to the Pasadena Playhouse location. The 766 East Colorado building that housed the theater remained, now re-used as a commercial space. The Sears department store company established a regional office building there in the 1920s. The Grace Nicholson Art Gallery was established, then later became the Pacific Asia Museum.


 Former Playhouse Site

766 Colorado, Former Playhouse Location


Pedestrian Crossing Point

Pedestrian Crossing Point Between Playhouse, Office Complex


A new office building across from the Playhouse provides a courtyard that mirrors the form of the Playhouse entrance, and provides ground-level retail spaces that front the courtyard. Community involvement produced this element and other historic, Art Deco design nods to be included in the project, designed originally as a modernist, corporate-looking building.


 Office Complex Front Facade

Office Complex Front Facade


Office Complex Courtyard Facade

Office Complex Courtyard Facade


Office Complex Courtyard

Office Complex Courtyard


These are the current focus areas of the District Association:

  • Expand activity nodes
  • Develop underutilized parcels: parking lots on major corridors such as Colorado Boulevard, etc. ·
  • Renewal of the District agreement is in-process, which must be redone every five year

For more information, visit the Playhouse District Association on-line. 





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