Residents start petition to save Montclair’s Bellevue Theatre
By ERIN ROLL
A petition to save the Bellevue Theatre from closing has been launched.
Montclair resident Lena Fine started a petition on Change.org Thursday evening, after it was announced that Bow Tie Cinemas' lease on the Bellevue Theatre would be expiring after the weekend.
"This space is iconic to Montclair and beloved by many, it would be a shame to let it waste away into another gentrified retail or office space," the petition states.
As of Friday morning, the petition had garnered at least 220 signatures.
The announcement that the theater's lease was set to run out prompted mass public outcry among residents and public officials on Friday.
The Friends of Anderson Park weighed in on their Facebook page.
"With news of the Bellevue Theater's closing after this weekend, Friends of Anderson Park is deeply concerned about the future of this historic building," it posted. " It has close ties to Anderson Park not only physically, but its builder was Robert Anderson, son of Charles W. Anderson, who donated the land for the park."
Montclair Film also posted a statement on Facebook from its executive director, Tom Hall. He wrote that the film-festival organization is "hopeful the owner of the property will be interested in continuing to have a tenant operate the space as a cinema."
"In the meantime, we want to say thank you to the Bowtie and Bellevue staff for always being so gracious as hosts for our organization, and we hope all local film lovers will visit us in the coming weeks, months, and years," the statement added.
Hall said in an interview Friday that Montclair Film would adjust to the closing of the Bellevue by working with Bow Tie Cinemas to expand the organization's presence at both the Clairidge Theatre on Bloomfield Avenue, as well as at the Montclair Kimberley Academy.
He added that members of the community had reached out asking if Montclair Film would be interested in taking on the theatre.
"We're not saying no, but I don't think we would be capable, not at this very minute." Hall said. "We're a break-even operation, we're not in the real estate acquisition business at this moment. But we love the Bellevue. We would love to work with whoever acquires it. Maybe that's us, we're not ruling that out, but we're open to all."
The Tudor-style building on Bellevue Avenue officially opened in May 1922.
This is a developing story. Follow the Montclair Local for more information.