KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Power & Light leaders say they are looking hard for a new tenant after the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet announced yesterday it would be keeping its doors closed for good.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas Holdings, a Texas-based chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This allows Alamo Drafthouse to continue operating while repaying creditors. However, three of their theaters, including Kansas City’s on 14th and Main, will permanently close.
“We are saddened by the closing of Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet,” Nick Benamin, Executive director of the Kansas City Power & Light District, said in a statement. “The Power & Light District is a proud steward of this iconic building, which plays a key role in Kansas City’s downtown neighborhood. We are working hard to find the perfect addition to write the next chapter for this historic venue, and we hope to have exciting news about its future soon.”
While many have expressed sadness over this news on social media, this building actually has a long history of ownership turnover. The “prominent reminder of the golden age of grand movie palaces” is detailed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mainstreet Theatre opened on October 30, 1921 under the Orpheum Theatre Circuit. It was “was hailed as the largest of the luxurious theaters in Kansas City,” at least until the Midland Theatre opened up six year later.
Vaudeville shows were still popular, but film was becoming more mainstream. The theater, which at the time had a 3,250 seating capacity, showed a vaude-film mix show.
The Mainstreet Theatre first closed in 1938 as the Great Depression strained the country. It then remained closed during World War II and until 1949.
Extensive renovation led to its reopening in 1949 as the R-K-O Missouri Theatre. Operators used a somewhat experimental way to show movies, but the novelty wore off and it closed again, in the 50s.
Then, the Dunvood Theatre Company, now American Multi Cinema (AMC), opened the Empire Theatre in the early 1960s. It reduced capacity and ran Hollywood blockbuster films. It also turned the space into four different theaters, a design still held today.
However, AMC deemed it “no longer viable as a film theatre,” according to Ron D. Leslie of the chain. The Empire closed in 1985.
Then, the Alamo Drafthouse took over in 2012. The theater company, which bills itself as “he best film, food and drink all in one seat,” was known for the latest movies with an added sense of luxury.
However, the company was strained by the coronavirus pandemic, as was much of the entertainment industry.
“We’re incredibly sad to tell you that because of the ongoing impact of COVID, we will not be reopening Mainstreet,” the company stated. “To our guests in the Kansas City area – thank you so much for your support over the years.”
Power & Light said they have made filling the historic building a priority.