Dobie theater site will become office space

Jul 17, 2014
Austin American Statesman

The funky four-screen movie theater at Dobie Center near the University of Texas campus won’t be reopening after all

Attempts to locate a new operator for the theater were unsuccessful, property managers said Wednesday, prompting them to transform the space into offices instead

Regus, a global company that specializes in renting offices and meeting rooms on a short-term basis, has leased the entire 15,000-square-foot theater space, according to the Carlton Group, the investment firm that owns Dobie Center

Plans also call for upgrades to some common areas at Dobie Center, which is at 2021 Guadalupe St. The work won’t displace any of the existing shops and restaurants, and won’t impact residents of the private student dorms that sit atop the retail space, according to Carlton Group

Interior demolition permits for the theater space are already making their way through the city of Austin’s approval process, according to a search of public records

“While we are sad that the Dobie theater tradition is ending, we couldn’t be more excited about Regus coming to Dobie,” Carlton Group chairman Howard Michaels said via email. “Our first priority at Dobie is to provide our students with a great living experience and to also provide a nurturing environment, which the Regus suites will facilitate. Regus will be a great addition to our property.”

The Dobie theater opened in 1972. Over the next 40 years, it became a popular spot to screen independent and art films. Increased competition, however, led to its closure in 2010

The new Regus facility, which will be accessible 24 hours a day, is aimed at companies and other groups that want to set up shop near the UT campus, the company said. It will also offer study spaces and a lounge for students

“This is our first campus facility in North America and we’re excited to be leading the effort to connect corporations, faculty, entrepreneurs and students in a professional, productive work environment,” said Regus CEO Stephen Farley

Regus already has a significant presence in Central Texas, offering temporary office space and conference rooms at multiple downtown Austin locations, as well as in the Arboretum area and near Lakeline Mall

The 27-story Dobie Center, named after author J. Frank Dobie, was the first Austin building to eclipse the height of the state Capitol when the development was completed in 1972

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