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Old Posted Oct 10, 2007, 6:41 AM
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Mission Drive-In may vanish


'1408' plays in August at the Mission Drive-In, which briefly reopened after being vandalized this year. The city is considering buying it.

Web Posted: 10/10/2007 12:06 AM CDT

Laura E. Jesse
Express-News
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/met...n.3213705.html

That sentimental feeling of watching images of popcorn, candy and fountain drinks flicker across a screen framed by the windshield of your car as you settle in for a double feature is becoming a relic in San Antonio.

After announcing this spring that the historic Mission Drive-In theater wouldn't open because of extensive vandalism, Santikos Theatres briefly indulged outdoor moviegoers in August with a limited-run opening.

But any hope that renewed interest would encourage owner Santikos to reopen the iconic four-screen theater for good likely will end Thursday.

That's when the City Council will consider a proposal to purchase the Roosevelt Avenue theater — San Antonio's last drive-in — to make way for a public library, headquarters for [both] the National Park Service and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and other commercial development.

As sad as the loss may seem to a nostalgic few, Councilman Roland Gutierrez is elated about the possibilities.

"You know, it is more than just a library location," he said. "This is about neighborhood commercial revitalization. It's about in-fill development. It's about taking a negative and creating a huge asset for the community."

Gutierrez said the $3.3 million purchase of nearly 26 acres on the South Side would provide an opportunity to connect the property to nearby Mission San José and the Mission Trails and to provide a permanent place for the Park Service's regional headquarters, which currently leases space on Roosevelt.

The purchase price, which includes $100,000 for title company fees and environmental assessment and survey, will be funded by just over $1 million from 2007 bond money allocated for a District 3 library and certificates of obligation included in the city's six-year capital improvement plan.

The Bexar Appraisal District set the market value of the land at a little less than $800,000, but Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni said commercial appraisers valued the land at $3.7 million.

Antonio Flores, president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, said his organization is ready to buy the land from the city as soon as it is ready to sell.

"Obviously, we want to make sure that HACU is located in a part of the city that has historical meaning to the community," Flores said. "It's right next to Mission San José, and that is a major component of the city's heritage. We would be delighted to become identified with that part of the city's history."

Financial details haven't been worked out, and DiGiovanni said officials will begin discussions about the amount of land the Park Service and HACU would each need and the financing necessary after the city acquires the land.

From 7 to 9 acres will remain available for other commercial development, Gutierrez said.

"Our intent was ... HACU will put in a third and the National Park Service a third, or something close to those numbers, to the point where we greatly diminish the price of the land to us," he said. "Then we could use that money for the development and infrastructure."

Santikos wouldn't comment on the sale, but John Santikos, president of the theater chain, signed the sales contract Friday.

As of January 2006, there were 17 drive-in theaters in Texas and 407 in the nation, operating a total of 658 screens, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association.

Mission Drive-In opened March 27, 1948, and was one of 13 Santikos-owned open-air theaters in the city.

The OK Corral Steakhouse and Drive-In in Stockdale, 36 miles east of San Antonio, now is the nearest operating drive-in theater.
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