CitySquare has bought the historic Forest Theater and the adjacent retail shopping strip and plans to restore the long-vacant theater into a performance and teaching space.
The project will become part of a larger community center for surrounding neighborhoods off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Dallas.
CitySquare is a nonprofit that serves impoverished residents and fosters community development in Dallas.
The 14,565-square-foot theater was built in 1949. It features a signature neon-clad tower.
“They have a real passion for the arts and a real passion for how art can intersect poverty …”
David Zoller of Weitzman represented CitySqaure in the deal, He told the Dallas Business Journal that the South Dallas community was lucky to have the theater under the control of a dedicated community group that can create a facility that makes a difference in people’s lives.
According to the Business Journal, the 31,114-square-foot retail property takes up an entire city block between Interstate 45 and U.S. 175, roughly three miles from downtown Dallas.
Forest Theater has had many lives in its 68 years, The Dallas Morning News reported. It has been a movie theater, a temporary synagogue, a concert hall, and a blues club.
Until 2008, it was a community arts center operated by singer Erykah Badu, who is from the neigborhood.
CitySquare CEO Larry James told the Morning News that the organization was able to buy the landmark only through the help of board member and health-care execuctive Jon Halbert and his wife, Linda. They run a foundation and were able cover the asking price in cash.
“They have a real passion for the arts and a real passion for how art can intersect poverty in a way that gets at challenging some of the causes and not just working on the effects,” James told the newspaper.