Preservationists Trying to Save Scottsdale's Harkins Camelview 5 Theater from Possible Demolition

Categories: Film and TV, News

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Benjamin Leatherman
The Harkins Camelview 5 theater in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale's Harkins Camelview 5, one of the longest-running movie theaters in Arizona, has been screening indie and art house flicks for a few decades now. And if a group of local historic preservationists, architecture aficionados, and longtime patrons have their way, it will keep doing so for years to come.

News broke earlier this month that the historic cinema, which first opened in 1973 and is situated next door to Scottsdale Fashion Square, might possibly be closed and demolished next year as a part of a proposed expansion of the upscale Camelback Road mall. It's a fate, however, that Valley architecture expert and author Walt Lockley and others are working to prevent.

See also: Endangered Wright House Is Phoenix Architecture Worth Preserving

Lockley's one of thousands of locals and Camelview 5 fans who are attempting to save the iconic art house cinema, which is a part of the Arizona-based Harkins Theatre chain, from possibly getting torn down.

An online petition aimed at preventing its demolition has been launched and currently has more than 2,000 signatures, and a Facebook group called "Save Camelview!" was launched recently by former Valley architect Taz Loomans. Camelview supporters, including the folks behind Modern Phoenix, are also planning to spread awareness of the issue and possibly be in attendance at upcoming meetings of the City of Scottsdale's Development Review Board when the matter comes up for public discussion.

Saving the Camelview theater is worth taking these steps, Lockley says, because it's an important piece of Valley lore that not only has historic status and a great deal of cultural significance, but also unique mid-century architectural elements (like the distinctive mushroom-like canopies out front and Art Deco touches inside) that set it apart from other local theaters.

"It's one of the only theaters of its kind in the entire state of Arizona because of its architecture," Lockley says. "But it's not only an architectural argument that is why Camelview is significant. It's a well-loved, well-used, and very popular theater with a strong identity of its own and one of the [few] theatres in the Arizona that shows exactly its kind of limited release foreign and independent films."

Location Info

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Harkins Camelview 5

7001 E. Highland Ave., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Film

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188 comments
Chase Todd
Chase Todd

Apparently not. If it were so popular it would be profitable (or at least break even) and therefore not in danger. If we saved every business (and despite what you may think, it is a business above other things) that had a nostalgic value then we would still have the first saloon opened with hitching posts and all. It caters to a niche which in many cases can be a good thing, but not in this particular case.

Donna Reiner
Donna Reiner

Harkins did not demolish the Cine Capri. He did not own the building.

John Celaya
John Celaya

If there is another "theater" that shows worthwhile NON MAINSTREAM independent films in Phoenix-tell me. This is all this pathetic city has.

Kaytee Fournier
Kaytee Fournier

No, it's NOT worth people's private funds to save!!!! We got enough trashy ass movie theaters that charge too much... do we really, really need another?????? NOPE!

Chase Todd
Chase Todd

Of all the people that have said save it; I wonder how many have been in the last 5 years ... 10 years.

Brandon Weiss
Brandon Weiss

The concept is better than the building. Rebuild it but still only play indie films.

Artie Woo
Artie Woo

As long as they tear it down and put in another lame ass theater that only plays crappy corporate Hollywood movies... Who needs a original theater that plays movies that you would never be able to see anywhere else? Im being totally Sarcastic by the way

Tha FilthyRich
Tha FilthyRich

Yes. Save it. Tear down Fashion Square and remodel it.

Gregg Paul
Gregg Paul

He'll NO, Built in 73, not an historic building. Art house theaters are worth saving. See movie here al the time. But let the market decide and if you are so concerned open a art house movie theater.

Carrie Regan
Carrie Regan

YES! was there last night... It must be saved!

Abel Baker
Abel Baker

Yeah, let's tear it down for more retail space. Idiots. Think of how cool the once crown jewel of Phoenix movie theatres, the Cine Capri, would be now with all the great stuff that has been added to the Biltmore if it hadn't been torn down!

Anthony Hagen
Anthony Hagen

Harkins demolished the original Cine Capri so whats stopping them from demolishing Camelview?

Laura Linger
Laura Linger

Yes. Come on, Arizona...we're better than this. What will go in its place? Another Smashburger?

Jason Kelley
Jason Kelley

Amazing architecture, and great movies you can't see anywhere else. Keep it!

jonstone98
jonstone98

@Gregg Paul It's not the market deciding if the owner of the land simply thinks a parking lot is a better, more profitable utility of that space.  Suggesting patrons shld open their own movie theater is a really helpful and useful piece of advice.

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