santee drive in owner denies sale but city of santee planner says otherwise!
By Chris Torrick
This story has more plot changes than a double feature! When we initally posted the story about the closure of the Santee Drive In, we got a denial from Susan Forte Boyd. Mrs Boyd is the head of the Forte Family Partnership LLC - owner of the Santee Drive In.
Several news sources had reported that the Santee Drive In was being sold to North Palisade Partners in Los Angeles and the property would be converted to a industrial building.
The City Of Santee website shows a filing for a building on the 13.5 acre site and the city planner for the City of Santee made the following comment to KFMB-TV Channel 8 -
"North Palisade Partners, an industrial real estate development firm out of Los Angeles, is in escrow to purchase the Drive-In Theater property. They are seeking to develop a 291,000 sq. ft. industrial building on the 13.49-acre site, which is located in an industrial zone. The development has been branded the “Santee Commerce Center.” The future tenant has not been identified but would be involved in manufacturing, research & development, distribution & related office uses. A historic assessment & environmental analysis of the site are still underway. The project will need to go before the City Council for approval, which would be approximately six (6) months from now. Escrow would not close until the project has been entitled."
This is the exact opposite of what Susan Forte - Boyd told us in an e-mail statement.
While she says "It is a statement of fact that the Santee Drive In has not been sold", she does not deny that the property is currently in escrow to North Palisade Partners. So what is the truth? The City Of Santee's current "Active Projects" map on the City Of Santee website shows project #10 as the North Palisade Industrial Building with the address of 10990 N. Woodside Avenue in Santee. It is highly doubtful the planning department for the city of Santee would go through the effort of placing a propery on their map for development if there wasn't something to it.
I have reached out again to Susan Forte - Boyd and I asked her the following question - Is Santee's Principal Planner Mr. Coyne lying to the media about the property being in escrow, and the plans for the 'Santee Commerce Center' and if so why would Mr. Coyne make such a statement to KFMB-TV about the Santee Drive in?
As a broadcaster that has been through several media outlet sales, most of the time a rumor of a sale is denied by the current owner to keep staffing in place until the transaction is complete. While I understand the benefits of that to Mrs. Forte - Boyd, one would think that instead of blaming the media for publishing a false story as she does in her statement, and taking in to consideration that the proposal is front facing public information is available on the city of Santee website - she would choose to to be honest with the media and her staff about the future of the Santee Drive in.
On the original post I did for this story I made an offer to current staffers of the drive in. The door is still open for those on the inside to speak to us in confidence about what is happening behind the scenes, and what they are being told by management. Feel free to email me - email@example.com or text at 619-445-1079.
We will update this story as warranted.