File photo
The Auburn Avenue Theater sits vacant and boarded up on Jan. 3, 2022, after being condemned due to safety concerns stemming from the demolition of the Max House Apartments complex next door.

File photo The Auburn Avenue Theater sits vacant and boarded up on Jan. 3, 2022, after being condemned due to safety concerns stemming from the demolition of the Max House Apartments complex next door.

Wave goodbye to the Auburn Avenue Theater in 2024

Demolition will pave the way for a new downtown theater complex.

Each new year is guaranteed to bring change.

The change in Auburn’s case will see the demolition of a landmark: the old Auburn Avenue Theater building at 1 Auburn Ave., at an as yet undetermined date early in 2024.

The city of Auburn is in the preliminary stages of planning for a new theater complex. The plans encompass the property on which the Avenue Theater has stood since 1917, and the now-vacant property on which the old Max House Apartments and associated street-level businesses stood until destroyed by fire in July 2021.

The old theater was condemned and has been boarded up since early 2022, when the razing of the adjacent Max House Apartments damaged it, rendering it unsafe to occupy.

Built in 1926, the building was originally used as a bus depot, and later a movie theater and then a dinner theater. The city of Auburn entered into a lease in 2007 with the former owners, the Douglas family, which had operated the dinner theater.

Once in charge, the city ran its Bravo! Performing Arts season from the theater, offering teen and adult performances of all kinds, including bands, comedy, tributes, even full-scale theater productions for adults and kids. Most of the touring groups were from the Northwest.

In 2016, the city bought the theater outright. Receipts over the last 14 years show the theater was successful both in attracting people for entertainment in the downtown core and as a money maker. The venue hosted performances summing to about 80 each year with an average annual attendance of 14,000.

Early drawings of the future complex envision a two-story theater extending to the corner of East Main and Auburn Avenue, about 25 percent larger than the old theater with additional seating.

Among the many questions still to answer, however, are how the city would pay for a project estimated to cost between $8.5 million and $10 million.

Daryl Faber, director of Auburn Parks, Arts and Recreation, is undaunted.

“When you have a mission and a goal, you have to have a plan in place, and I have a passion for getting this theater reopened in our downtown,” Faber told the Reporter in 2023.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Northwest

Courtesy Photo, Renton Police
Renton increases hiring bonus for new police officers

Bonus is a $20,000 payment upon hire and $20,000 payment upon completion of a one year probation.

LivAway Suites broke ground near Topgolf in Renton. Courtesy image
Extended-stay hotel breaks ground in Renton

LivAway Suites to be built near Topgolf, Boeing and The Landing.

Kent Police recovered nearly 800 catalytic converters in a 2021 bust. File photo
New state legislation fights catalytic converter theft

Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill on March 26 adding new regulations… Continue reading

t
2-year-old dies in Federal Way shooting

Incident took place in a parking lot near the 100 block of Southwest Campus Drive near IHOP.

t
Des Moines woman faces prison for embezzling from Renton company

Created an account using identity of a deceased employee to file 58 claims for reimbursement.

t
Renton Police arrest ‘Kia Boys’ after crime spree

Teenagers arrested after stolen vehicle chase March 26 from Renton to Southcenter Mall.

t
Q&A with the new King County Library System executive director

“It’s really about providing that space to reimagine who you are,” said Heidi Daniel.

Auburn Station’s existing parking garage. (File photo)
Alternatives for Auburn’s Sound Transit parking garage

Kent Station one option as fewer floors available in Auburn

Ideal Option treatment center and lab building. (Photo courtesy of Ideal Option)
New addiction treatment center opens in Renton

Overdose deaths see record numbers in King County.

t
One dead, one injured in Federal Way shootings

Federal Way Police say they have found a connection between the two incidents.

File Photo
KC Sheriff’s Office sues over Burien encampment ban

Office of Law Enforcement Oversight director calls Burien’s ordinance “unconstitutional.”