El Capitan building threatened

The El Capitan theater in Hollywood will remain open even if the building housing it goes into foreclosure, according to Disney and Pacific Theatres execs.

The historic Hollywood building is on the brink of foreclosure, but Disney and Pacific officials are adamant that the showcase theater — which reopened in 1991 after extensive restoration — will not go dark.

“There will be no interruption of business in any way, shape or form,” said Pacific’s Jay Swerdlow.

Pacific and Disney are in partnership on a long-term lease for the theater and, as the main tenant, they are quietly monitoring the building’s economic turmoil.

That turmoil prompted Nick Olaerts, one of the general partners in the building’s ownership, to lash out at city and Metro Rail officials, claiming the proposed Hollywood Boulevard subway has chased away almost all of his tenants.

“I’m angry enough right now because of all the work we did to restore that building, all the proclamations we received from the city, and now we can’t even get our phone calls returned,” Olaerts said Tuesday.

Olaerts and a group of investors took over the building in 1984 and subsequently brought it to full occupancy at premium rates. Things have since changed.

“I understand there are other factors taking place here,” he said. “There has been a huge economic turndown and we’re in the midst of a bad real estate market. But my tenants have been leaving because they don’t want to deal with four to five years of Metro Rail construction.”

Olaerts has been trying to contact the city and Metro Rail to see if they would lease some of the empty space.

“I sent a letter to Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, asking her to please contact us about this, I made phone calls to her office, and I’ve heard nothing in response,” he said.

A spokeswoman from Goldberg’s office said she could find no record of Olaerts’ calls or letter.

“If he wants Metro Rail to locate their offices there, he’s too late,” she said. “They’ve already found their office space.”

Elsewhere, plans for the ballyhooed mural of pop star Michael Jackson, which was to be located on the side of the building, have stopped — at least for now, Olaerts said. “I’ve been told it had to do with the muralist’s busy schedule,” he said.

Olaerts said he is in weekly negotiations with the lender on the building’s mortgage to see if they can work out some financial arrangement to avoid foreclosure.

“But we are down to do-or-die kind of time frames,” he said.

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