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Dobie theater being converted to offices

Gary Dinges
gdinges@statesman.com

The funky four-screen theater at Dobie Center near the University of Texas campus won’t be reopening after all.

Attempts to locate a new operator were unsuccessful, property managers said this week, prompting them to transform the space into offices instead.

Regus, a global company that specializes in renting offices and meeting rooms on a short-term basis, has leased the entire 15,000-square-foot theater space, according to the Carlton Group, the investment firm that owns Dobie Center.

Plans also call for upgrades to common areas at Dobie Center, located at 2021 Guadalupe St. The work won’t displace any of the existing shops and restaurants – or residents of the private student dorms that sit atop the retail space.

Interior demolition permits for the theater space are already making their way through the city of Austin’s approval process, according to a search of public records.

“While we are sad that the Dobie theater tradition is ending, we couldn’t be more excited about Regus coming to Dobie,” Carlton Group chairman Howard Michaels said via email. “Our first priority at Dobie is to provide our students with a great living experience and to also provide a nurturing environment, which the Regus suites will facilitate. Regus will be a great addition to our property.”

The Dobie theater first opened in 1972. Over the next 40 years, it became a popular spot to screen independent and art films. Increased competition, however, led to its closure in 2010.

The new Regus facility, which will be accessible 24 hours a day, is aimed at companies and other groups that want to set up shop near the UT campus, the company said. It will also offer study spaces and a lounge for students.

“This is our first campus facility in North America and we’re excited to be leading the effort to connect corporations, faculty, entrepreneurs and students in a professional, productive work environment,” said Regus CEO Stephen Farley.

Regus already has a significant presence in Central Texas, offering temporary office space and conference rooms at multiple downtown Austin locations, as well as in the Arboretum area and near Lakeline Mall.