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Phil Smith of Boston, mentioned in the previous post, was the founder of Midwest Drive-In Co. and Smith Management Co., predecessor companies of General Cinema Corp. Smith opened his first 2 drive-ins in 1938 in Cleveland and Detroit and then concentrated efforts on development of more drive-ins. They retained several indoor theatres that they were already operating, but abandoned development of more indoors until about 1951 when they developed the suburban shopping center cinema concept.
Geller was the architect of record – his name was on the plans. Schlanger was a consultant. Mr. Geller was well-versed in the International Style, having designed office buildings and other structures prior to his being contracted to design the Cinema I Cinema II. He consulted with Mr. Schlanger regarding the technical aspects unique to a theatre, i.e. sightlines, acoustics, seating arrangements, equipment, etc.
I’m sure someone collects them and sells them on eBay…. you can find just about anything there.
I was there snooping around a while back, and I could see that at one time there was a 2-story structure in the empty space behind that facade, marks from the tar roof on the adjoining windowless walls were evident. An auditorium could have fit in the parking lot in the rear and on the site of that 1960s-style post office behind the parking lot.
The link below (from my post of 03/14/2005) shows the remains of the theatre I have been referring to, scroll to the bottom of the page to the group of 4 pictures. That website, forgotten-ny.com, mis-identified it.
OK, apparently this theatre I posted is not the Square Theatre. The place I have been referring to was in the 3-story building in the next block, visible beyond the Square marquee in Lost’s photo, in the center of the building under that gable part of the roof. It explains the previous confusion over the address. Do any old-time Bronx boys or girls remember what the theatre at 49 Westchester Sq. was called?
Al, wouldn’t you say that his ‘spending undue expense’ prevented those resources from being available to maintain the facilities that they already built or renovated? For example, wouldn’t the money they threw away on the Rialto, a theatre that even the porno operators didn’t want anymore and only lasted a couple years under CO, would have been better spent fixing the air conditioning at the B/C, or the escalator, or the roof? There were many Rialto’s that shouldn’t have been bothered with that caused the deterioration of many viable theatres like the B/C due to lack of resources.
Having worked at an art house myself, I know that a New York art house crowd is VERY temperamental, they get annoyed at the least little thing. But it really is distracting in small auditoriums like these to have people wandering around in the aisle, their eyes not yet adjusted to the dark, hunting for seats, particularly if the film is subtitled and someone already seated has their view blocked, even momentarily. An independent operator can set up common sense policies like this easier than a chain theatre, where every letter or phone call to the public relations dept. causes them to go apoplectic.
Considered that they have acquired the property under the building, and the statements from their web site in my previous post, I’d say the odds of it surviving another 5 years are slim. They announced 2 years ago they were going to convert it to retail – they got rid of the artwork and trashed the exterior facade in an attempt to prevent it from being landmarked.
No I didn’t work for them, thanks be to God, but I was as close to them as you can get without working for them.
But you now make my point: he ignored the economic realities of the business by spending too much money (on the wrong things)and keeping too many single screens.
“…the guy that new the bsns and cared for theaters….”
um, ok then – I guess that explains why they are such a vibrant, successful company today, right? Oh, and weren’t they listed in the most recent edition of the Fortune 500?
Sorry for the sarcasm, but I’m surprised you say that. Although I don’t know who you are, you have mentioned on other CT pages different people you know or worked for in NY. Several were people who actually did know the business and care for the theatres, but they also understood the economic realities of the business, something that His Arrogance The Grand Pooh-Bah never grasped. This guy was not anywhere near their league.
The decline of the Plaza began when that company from north of the border inflicted themselves on the New York market in about ‘86. They took over the combined RKO, Century and Cinema 5 (and later Walter Reade) theatre groups and totally ignored the established Manhattan booking patterns. One of their more stellar booking decisions they made for the Plaza was 'License to Drive’. His Arrogance, The Grand Pooh-Bah and all-around Mr. Know-It-All publicly stated that he was going to show the established NY area theatre circuits how to run theatres, and then proceeded to run the theatres he bought and built directly into the ground.
Is this place doing any business yet?
By the time the Parmatown Cinema in Cleveland was built in 1967 the package HVAC units were in common use, and it had 8 big Carrier units up top. There were 2 units for the lobby and 3 for each auditorium. It was based on the same layout and design as the Chapel Hill Cinema, and had 2 large rooms upstairs over the rest rooms where the water chillers, boilers and air handlers were to be located. Although I had been in the Chapel Hill Cinema I didn’t work there and couldn’t go snooping around so I don’t know if the hvac equipment was in there, on the roof, or from a central plant. At Parmatown, the last-minute change to the package units left us with plenty of storage space, always in short supply in a theatre.
A picture of the original plan for the Vogue and ajoining shopping area can be seen here.
That’s Bernie Williams, from the Yankee’s.
Randall Park Mall to close by June 12
Posted by Michelle Jarboe May 21, 2008 19:32PM
After more than 30 years, Randall Park Mall will close in mid-June.
David Smith, mayor of North Randall, said Wednesday that mall owner Whichard Real Estate has decided to shut down the property.
The few dozen small stores inside the sprawling, mostly empty mall have until June 12 to close or move into empty storefronts on nearby roads. Burlington Coat Factory and Sears, which can be accessed from outside the mall, will stay open, as will the movie theater and Ohio Technical College’s PowerSport Institute.
Smith said he had spoken with owner Haywood Whichard within the past two weeks. Attempts to contact Whichard on Wednesday were unsuccessful. Reached by phone, a receptionist at the Whichard Real Estate office in Raleigh, N.C., declined comment and hung up.
County records show the company owes more than $200,000 in unpaid property taxes and has taken out multiple mortgages on the mall. The property’s future remains uncertain, but Smith hopes it will be purchased or foreclosed upon and then redeveloped.
“I think that after the word has gotten out that Whichard’s no longer the owner of the property, it will attract countless owners and developers from around the country,” Smith said. “Everything that has happened to the Randall Park Mall is a direct correlation to the ownership. It has nothing to do with this community.”
Retail conditions in North Randall weren’t so rosy even before Whichard bought the mall for $6 million in 2004. Randall Park, which opened in 1976, lost tenants and shoppers as slick new shopping centers sprang up in nearby communities. Crime and some high-profile violence drove shoppers away. Meanwhile, enclosed malls lost much of their luster, replaced by mixed-use projects and open-air centers like Legacy Village and Crocker Park.
The major department stores — Dillard’s, JCPenney and, most recently, Macy’s — left, as did national retailers on nearby streets. And in March, AMC Entertainment pulled out of the “Magic Johnson” movie theaters there. The theater’s out-of-state owners, who renamed the property O Theater, are trying to keep the business running with help from longtime local employees.
The owners did not return calls Wednesday. Theater manager Clyde Mitchell said he has heard nothing to indicate that the theater might close.
“It can’t be any worse that it’s already been,” he said about business.
Mitchell said closing the mall might cut down on walk-through traffic from people who aren’t there to see movies. “I hope it will be for the better,” he said.
Smith, who has talked to everyone from local developers to Israeli investors about the property, said some out-of-state investors are interested in the property. He would not identify the developers, whose options range from mixed-use redevelopment of the existing mall building to demolition for an industrial park.
“You have to have change to have progress,” Smith said. “This community has been overlooked for so long, and it is an opportunity waiting to happen.”
Today the mayor of N. Randall has publicly announced the shut-down of the Randall Mall, confirming information in the previous entry. He doesn’t see the shut-down of what was once the largest indoor shopping center in the country as troubling, rather, he sees it as a chance for redevelopment. No mention was made of the theatre in the account that of the mayors announcement that I heard.
The following is from the homepage of the Reading Int'l website, here where they describe their business and objectives (note, in particular, the final sentence of the last paragraph below):
Reading International, Inc (AMEX: RDI) is in the business of owning and operating cinemas and live theaters and developing, owning and operating real estate assets. Our business consists primarily of
the development, ownership and operation of cinemas in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, principally under the Reading Cinemas, Angelika Film Center, City Cinemas and Rialto names;
the development, ownership and operation of commercial real estate in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, including entertainment-themed retail centers (“ETRC”) in Australia and New Zealand and
the ownership and leasing to production companies through Liberty Theaters, Inc. of “Off Broadway” style live theaters in Manhattan and Chicago
We are different from most other cinema companies due to our real property emphasis. Calculated based on book value nearly 70% of our assets relates to our real estate activities. While most of our cash flow is currently derived from cinemas, our present business plan is to reinvest that cash flow principally in real estate assets, and to be opportunistic in terms of the acquisition and development of additional entertainment properties. Unlike other cinema companies, we are not compelled to continue and redevelop our cinema assets, where higher and better uses become available for such properties.
City Cinemas' parent company holds a 25% stake in the Place 57, the faux-luxury condominium building now occupying the site of the Sutton.
I know what it means, Warren, but when somebody says ‘robot’ most of us over a certain age think of Rosie from The Jetsons, or that thing on Lost in Space (DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!) or R2D2.
The 3/59 ad for ‘Some Like It Hot’ linked above is touting the remodeled Loew’s State. The small print at the bottom of the ad states, “New ‘Easy Chair’ Orchestra Lounger Seats Properly Spaced * New Multi-Channel HI-FI Stereo Sound * New Screen Magic * New Robot-Controlled All Weather Air Conditioning”. That last point brings to mind images of Rosie, the maid from ‘The Jetsons’, rolling down the aisle and adjusting the thermostat :–)
The following is from the homepage of the Reading Int'l website, here, where they describe their business and objectives (note, in particular, the final sentence of the last paragraph below):
Wow! I just looked at the heading for this theatre. I don’t believe there is another theatre on the whole CT site that has as many aka names as this one…
Is this still amc/Loews? It is still listed as such on Fandango, but Moviephone just lists it as Tower East, not 72nd St E., and no amc/Loews. Moviephone lists the Orpheum, Lincoln and 84th by their correct names, same as Fandango, just this one is different. Maybe it’s going to be sold?