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The Real Deal Los Angeles

After displacement drama, Bob Baker Marionette Theater relocates to Highland Park

Its former location in Westlake is being redeveloped into multifamily complex
February 19, 2019 12:00PM

A concept drawing of the new theater and the existing theater at 1345 W. First Street (Credit: Gareth Simpson via Flickr and Google Maps)

UPDATED, Feb. 19, 1:45 p.m.: A puppet show that has called Westlake home for 55 years has found a new space for its 2,000 plus handcrafted puppets.

The landmark Bob Baker Marionette Theater will move to a former movie theater in Highland Park by November, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The theater inked a 10-year lease at the 10,000-square-foot property at the corner of York Boulevard and North Avenue 50. It plans on renovating the theater, as well as building rooms for workshops, smaller performances and a Bob Baker museum. Brittany Corlyn and David Passman of the Passman Group represented Bob Baker Marionette Theater.

Originally built as the York Theater, its new location has been used as a Korean church as of late. In the past, it’s also been a barbershop and a organ sales and repair shop.

The beloved theater has been in a flux since its late eponymous founder, Bob Baker, sold the theater’s original building to a developer in 2013 for $1.3 million, according to property records.

Real estate investor Eli Elimelech is now moving forward with plans to redevelop the space, at 1345 West 1st Street in Westlake, into a 104-unit apartment complex.

When he first proposed the project five years ago, Elimelech met serious opposition from perservationsts who opposed the theater’s shuttering. He then struck a deal that would allow the theater to reopen at the property in 2020, with new facilities and a small museum.

At one point, the theater also explored the option of hosting traveling puppet shows around Southern California in lieu of having an established home.

The theater opened in 1963, and was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument in 2009. [LAT] — Natalie Hoberman