San Lorenzo Express News

Lorenzo Theater Is Sold

FEBRUARY 21, 2001

The Lorenzo Theater has been sold to a veterinarian who failed in an earlier attempt to get approval to use the theater as an animal clinic. Dharam Salwan bought the vacant building last month for $360,000 cash, according to the Daily Review.

Salwan told the Daily Review that he wants to restore the former movie theater as a theater. In 1999 Salwan applied to the county for a permit to turn the theater into an animal clinic for his veterinarian son. A bitter struggle ensued with the Lorenzo Theater Foundation, a nonpofit corporation that plans to restore the theater and operate it as a venue for live performances. Salwan withdrew his application after the county imposed a list of conditions to preserve the historic character of the 54-year old building. The theater was added to the California Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Last year a Fremont religious congregation sought a permit from the county to use the theater as a combination church and secular community center. Church members painted the exterior of the theater in an agreement with the former owner, who had been ordered by the county to clean up the exterior. Community opposition to the church proposal was strong, and the application was withdrawn late last year.

Lorenzo Theater Foundation spokesman Larry Leal said that the foundation will continue raising money to purchase the building. "We still feel that restoring this building is not going to be cost effective for a for-profit entity," Leal said. Salwan reportedly has offered to lease the theater to the foundation for $4,500 a month.