Since 1926, when it opened with the silent film "King of the Turf," the Guild Theatre has welcomed moviegoers in downtown Menlo Park.
Now, the property where the Guild sits has been listed as available to be developed as offices or a mixed-use building under a long-term lease.
The theater is one of only two remaining single-screen theaters in the area. The other is the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto, which is owned and operated by a nonprofit foundation.
The real estate listing, by Sam Arsan of Arsan Realty in Redwood City, says the current tenants, Landmark Theatres, are on a month-to-month rental agreement.
"This building is ready for redevelopment," the listing says. "Convert this building to mixed use and re-lease at a substantial profit," it continues. "Many permitted uses including retail or office."
Property owner Howard "Sandy" Crittenden of Atherton says he placed the property on the market several months ago and has had some interest, including a potential tenant currently considering what he thinks "would be an exciting change of use."
Mr. Crittenden said he is unsure of Landmark Theatres' plans. "I think they need to decide what they want to do," he said. "We haven't sat down and really (discussed) what are their interests."
When contacted by the Almanac, Chris Principo, a publicist for Landmark Theatres, said: "This is the first I have heard of this." He said Landmark's home office also had not heard the building is being advertised.
Potential reuse of the property is constrained mostly by the fact that it has no parking, noted both Mr. Crittenden and Jim Cogan, Menlo Park's economic development manager.
Mr. Crittenden said that he had been told that if the use of the 4,815-square-foot property and 4,400-square-foot building is less intensive than the current theater use, it would not require adding parking.
But Mr. Cogan said that only applies if the building remains a theater. "If someone was to do just about anything else but a theater, they would have to comply with the parking requirements of the specific plan," he said.
If parking were provided, the specific plan allows mixed-use or mixed-use residential on the site, with between 25 to 40 residential units per acre, depending on whether or not public benefits are provided, Mr. Cogan said. Maximum height is 38 feet.
Mr. Crittenden, a long-time Atherton resident, previously owned the site of the Park Theatre, which closed in 2002. After he spent years unsuccessfully trying to redevelop the property, he sold it in 2014. The new owners, listed as 1275 LLC with Sean and Erik Corrigan as representatives, have recently submitted a plan for a mixed retail, office and housing development on the property, with at-grade and underground parking, Mr. Cogan said.
Mr. Crittenden said he had thought of developing the Guild property himself, "but that's not where my interests lie."
The Guild has long been a part of Menlo Park history. A 2001 story about the Guild by Almanac writer Alan Sissenwein said the theater was originally built by Boyd Braden for $75,000 in the days of silent films. When it opened in 1926, it was called the Menlo Theatre and boasted a $10,000 organ. The name changed to the Guild in the late 1940s, he wrote.
Murals originally adorned the theater walls, the article says, but were later covered with curtains. For many years the theater featured first-run features, but in recent years it has specialized in foreign, vintage and independent films, plus monthly midnight showings of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Longtime Menlo Park residents told Mr. Sissenwein they remembered Western serials and Sunday matinees filled with children at the theater.
Mr. Crittenden said he has a historic evaluation of the building showing it is not historic. Mr. Cogan said that evaluation is on file and would be looked at in conjunction with any development proposal.