The Historic New Isis Theatre, one of the city’s last remaining single-screen movie theaters, has been bought by Fort Worth commercial real estate investor Larry White Jr.
The theater, at 2401 N. Main St. near Fort Worth’s Historic Stockyards District, was sold by Anastasia Talsma. Klaas Talsma, a dairy farmer near Hico, bought the 9,000-square-foot building in 2005. In June 2013, the property was transferred to Anastasia Talsma, deed records show.
The theater has been vacant since 1988.
White could not be reached for comment Thursday. A spokeswoman at his office said White was declining to talk about the purchase or his plans for the building at this time.
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White serves on the board of the Southwestern Exposition & Livestock Show and has purchased several award-winning animals over the years. In 2010, he set a record price when he paid $210,000 to buy War Admiral, that year’s grand champion steer. This year, he paid $40,000 for the grand champion wether goat, after last year paying $44,000 for the reserve grand champion goat.
The New Isis has been included on Historic Fort Worth’s list of Most Endangered Places five times, the last in 2010, as part of a larger group of the last remaining single-screen movie theaters. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places, the group said.
Jerre Tracy, Historic Fort Worth’s executive director, a 45-year-old nonprofit dedicated to preserving the city’s historic structures and identity, welcomed the news of the sale.
“When [properties] sit and languish, they need some kind of intervention to happen,” Tracy said. “Sometimes changing owners is the best news that can happen. We hope the right man has shown up.”
The original Isis Theater was built in Victorian grandeur on the site in 1913 and opened in 1914. But it burned in 1935 and the art deco-style New Isis replaced it a year later.
Tracy said a commercial redevelopment of the theater would likely qualify for federal historic tax credits, the new Texas historic tax credits, as well as the city’s historic site tax exemption. Under the city’s incentive, once a property is approved as a historic and cultural landmark, and a project approved, the property valuation freezes on the city’s portion of the property tax bill for 10 years.
A redevelopment of the New Isis, Tracy said, “would be wonderful for the continued development of north Main Street and Exchange Avenue.”
The last historic Fort Worth movie theater to change hands was the Ridglea Theater at 6025 Camp Bowie Blvd. Dallas businessman Jerry Shults bought that property in December 2010 and spent more than a million dollars to renovate it. The theater, originally opened in 1950, reopened in October 2012 to host events and concerts.
The New Isis theater was owned by Harold Griffith of Fort Worth from 1970 until 2005. In 1995, the theater sustained minor smoke damage from a fire in an adjoining 4,500-square-foot building at 2405 N. Main St., which Anastasia Talsma also sold recently.
Trey Presswood with Panther Real Estate Solutions represented Talsma in the New Isis sale. Eric Walsh with HGC Commercial represented White.