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Leveling of Auburn's Valley 6 screens means end for 45-year-old drive-in
Couldn't be more official now — after 45 years in operation, it's closing time for the Valley 6 Drive-In Theaters.
Over the last week contractors working for the Robertson Property Group finished leveling the screens, leaving only remnants of metal and wood.
That and a whole lot of audio hookups on empty gravel lots, no longer pointing at anything.
"Auburn isn't going to be the same without the drive-in," one unhappy former patron wrote on a Facebook page devoted to the outdoor theaters.
"Where's the dislike and depressing button?" another added.
The Valley 6 was one of only six of its kind remaining in the state.
Calls to John Manavian, vice president of Real Estate Development for Los Angeles-based Robertson Properties Group, were not returned.
Kieth Kiehl, the heart and soul of the theaters operation, employees say, died last December.
The City Council approved an ordinance and a development agreement between the owners of the property, RPG, and the City in 2011 that allowed RPG to begin offering about 70 acres of property, including the Valley 6 and several adjacent properties at the city's north end, for office, retail and residential development.
The Auburn Gateway Project site plan included in the development agreement shows a multi-phased development of 720,000 square feet of retail, 500 residential units and/or up to 1.6 million square feet of office space. It calls as well for an extension of I Street Northeast to South 277th.
Mayor Pete Lewis put those numbers in perspective last year.
"The last time the City did something like this was the Lakeland Hills development, and this is on par with Lakeland Hills," Lewis said.
For several years, the City had negotiated with RPG on future development of the acreage, touching on preparation of an environmental impact statement, changes to the comprehensive plan and zoning code to authorize a mixed-used commercial zone, and preparation of a draft development agreement and a draft planned action ordinance.
In the development agreement, which lays out development guidelines, the RPG agreed that the layout and uses of the Auburn Gateway Project would follow these strictures:
• Other than common areas, parking and access, no multiple family residential uses will be allowed on the ground floor of any building but only in upper stories of multi-story buildings.
• It shall contain more full-service, sit-down restaurants than fast food, including drive-thru restaurants
• Gas stations and car repair service and parts business will only be built as part of a larger retail operation.
When the original owners of the property sold to RPG a decade ago, they made clear that their decision was all about the sagging business for the outdoor theaters.