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Kamas Theater closed again after lease negotiations fail

Social media users got excited when a Kamas City resident posted this to Facebook July 17.
Krystal Gutierrez Nielsen
Kamas Valley Information Center
Social media users got excited when a Kamas City resident posted this to Facebook July 17.

A local couple's lease expired Dec. 15.

Blanca Partida and Reed Bearbower had aspired to reopen the historic theater, which has been closed for a decade.

They got approval from Kamas City, but couldn’t secure a public viewing license from movie studios. Partida and Bearbower had hosted a couple of private events, but the theater wasn’t generating a steady cash flow.

The couple signed a three-month lease last summer and went month-to-month after that. Rent escalated from $1,000 to $1,500 and was eventually going to hit $2,400.

“From a business point of view, I get it, because you want to make money off your building. I understand that part,” Partida said. “But realistically, those numbers weren't—they're not there.”

Property owner John Crandell told KPCW $2,400 had been the going rate, on and off, for 30 years. He says the theater is 4,000 square feet.

Partida and Bearbower weren’t prepared to sign the multi-year lease he proposed without the license to screen movies. They also say the terms of their lease made them responsible for building repairs.

It’s not the first time the theater’s tenants couldn’t reach an agreement with Crandell. The last owners, Kevin and Sharee Harris, gave up their lease in 2014.

Crandell says part of the disagreement was they didn’t want to screen R-rated movies and didn’t keep up with repairs. Sharee Harris didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Crandell told KPCW he’s hoping to sell. The southern Utah resident says next time he’s in Kamas, for sale signs will go up as the curtain comes down.

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