Michaan's Auctions owner Allen Michaan will be dropping his lease on the theater he restored on Alameda Point, and he and city of Alameda officials are working on a deal that they hope will keep the theater operating with Michaan's $1 million in improvements in place.

"We will find a way to make this work," Michaan said.

Michaan, who also owns Oakland's Grand Lake Theater and the Alameda Point Antiques & Collectibles Faire, leased the Saratoga Street theater a decade ago. But he said he never actively marketed it and that the rentals didn't cover his lease costs.

Over the years, he has offered the 420-seat theater, which has balcony seating, a stage, reception and private viewing areas, for school and community events without charge. And he's hopeful it can remain a community resource.

"We really, really tried to make it a good resource for the community as well as for us," he said.

Michaan is asking for rent credits in exchange for the improvements he made to the theater, which was known as Auctions By the Bay Theater. He's also negotiating with the city to move his auction house to Building 20, which is bigger than his current digs and right next to the antique fair's current location.

Alameda City Manager John Russo confirmed the city is in talks with Michaan regarding the theater, though he said the parties are still in an early phase of negotiations. Russo called the theater a "terrific asset for the city" but said he didn't think Alameda could afford to run it.


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"I don't think it's likely the city will own or operate this, but would facilitate a transfer to somebody else, or take possession but lease it to someone else to operate. I don't know what all of that is yet," Russo said.

Contact Michele Ellson at michele@theislandofalameda.com.