ECHO PARK –– A housing and commercial development is planned for the legendary Bob Baker Marionette Theater on the southern edge of Echo Park.
It’s not clear whether the theater will remain operating in its cinderblock building on First Street and Glendale Boulevard. But a presentation about the rehabilitation and reuse of the site as a “multi-family residential and commercial property” is scheduled for Thursday’s meeting of the Cultural Heritage Commission, which oversees the city’s historic landmarks.
The city declared the building a historic cultural monument in 2009 as part of an effort by fans to rescue the struggling theater from closing. The 90-year-old Baker is one of the nation’s most prominent puppeteers who began working with marionettes at age 7. His theater contains 3,000 hand-made marionettes and has hosted shows – followed by ice cream – for nearly 50 years, making it perhaps the nation’s longest-running puppet theater.
Three years after being declared a landmark, the theater property was put up for sale for $2.05 million as the theater’s problems continued. Online property records show it sold last year for $1.305 million.
The Eastsider has contacted the theater for more details about the proposed development.