[Update Jan. 6, 2:30 p.m.]: Today it was announced The Observatory bought the historic North Park Theater, which will be the site of the new San Diego location. More info on that after the jump.
The Observatory announced their expansion into San Diego with a brand new venue yesterday. There wasn't much info on the post from the venue's Instagram account, but it was certainly enough to get people's attention. Talk about a bold way to kick off 2015.
This is the first we've heard of The Observatory North Park, but it sure sounds like a sensible move considering the massive overgrowth of the Santa Ana venue and the ripeness of the SD market, especially North Park–which Forbes named one of America's Best Hipster Neighborhoods (cringe). With that kind of backdrop, it'll be interesting to see the kind of damage the OC-based franchise can do once it creeps down south. We'll keep you posted as more details about the venue become available.
[Update]: On Tuesday, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that David Cohen and the Verant Group, who bought The North Park Theater in 2013 from the bankrupt Lyric Opera San Diego, have sold it to SD Observatory LLC. The venue will officially change hands on Jan.15.
“SD Observatory promises a seamless transition, but adds that there will be a lot more buzz in town, with big names in entertainment lined up to draw audiences in from all areas of San Diego and beyond,” says the Verant Group's publicist, William Lopez in a statement.
Before making the official announcement, Cohen and the Verant Group had already sold their restaurant at the front of the theater, the West Coast Tavern, to the Observatory and started removing the theater's seats and brought in pop acts.
The North Park Theatre, built in 1928, is a 1,200-seat movie house. Much like the Fox Theater in Pomona, it closed as a theater back in 1989 and over the years housed various discount and religious enterprises. It was reborn a decade-and-a-half later as the centerpiece of North Park's resurgence. When Cohen and Verant Group bought the place in 2013, they allowed room for organizations like the San Diego Musical Theatre and the LGBT Film Festival in an effort to balance and broaden the theater's offerings. Local venues The Casbah and The Belly Up have thrown a large number of shows at the theater. Their calendar currently boasts upcoming performances from Curren$y, Cold War Kids, TV on the Radio and more. No word yet on how those shows will be affected, if at all.
Of course with the Observatory's ability to bring in marquee national acts, things are sure sure to change. However, Verant publicist Lopez says the Observatory plans to keep operations of the venue virtually the same.
“Besides the increase in shows and artists, the new owners intend on running operations pretty much as they are now,” Lopez says. “They have also expressed their sincere interest in teaming with community members to embrace North Park and carry on the legacy of support established through the years by David Cohen, Bobby Jones and The Verant Group.”