Oakley's historic 20th Century Theater has sold to new owners after surviving the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic and business shutdowns.
The local landmark has served as a gateway to Oakley Square since 1941 and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Oakley residents fought to save the theater from wrecking balls in the early 1990s and its previous owners fought to keep its legacy alive through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The 20th Century is really an icon for our neighborhood," said Colleen Reynolds, Oakley community council president. "They've been to concerts here, weddings here, events here."
Reynolds said the community council has been anxious about the sale of the historic building, worried that new buyers may be more interested in tearing it down than preserving the history Oakley residents have enjoyed.
The new owner is the RDI Corporation, a local company based in Blue Ash. CEO Bronson Trebbi has not yet commented on the sale, but Joshua Rothstein, with Onsite Retail Group, lives in the neighborhood and brokered the deal.
"The buyer that ended up getting it, thankfully, is going to preserve it and only make it better," said Rothstein.
He said the theater would stay, but a former laundromat located next door will become something else.
"I think people are saying 'OK' and taking a sigh of relief, but they still have questions," he said.
Former owner Mark Rogers said 2020 destroyed the business after large gatherings, events and weddings were all postponed or canceled outright. He worked to create new types of events to save the business, but said in 2020 he was ready to sell.
"He kept this thing alive during a lot of tough times and tough challenges," said Reynolds.
There's no proposed timeline for any changes to the property, and the 20th Century Theater is still open, hosting events.