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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?
This is the Plain Dealer article referred to from the link in the previous post:
$7 million renovation of Capitol theater to begin
by Karen Sandstrom
The Plain Dealer
May 14, 2008 09:18A
On a rainy Cleveland evening in April 1921, hundreds of people gathered at West 65th Street and Detroit Avenue to celebrate the newly built Gordon Square Arcade and its attached movie theater, the Capitol.
After a few speeches and a tune from a six-piece orchestra, the Capitol screen lit up with its debut feature film, “The Inner Voice.” The female lead, actress Agnes Ayres, would lose her fortune years later in the stock market crash. But at the moment, the silent-film world still held promise, and she was a star.
A little of that 1921 excitement might be in the air at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday as community leaders in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood gather inside the Capitol to celebrate a $7 million project aimed at renovating the theater and invigorating the neighborhood.
Construction begins Thursday to turn the theater, empty for 23 years, into a three-screener specializing in independent films. It is slated to reopen in April 2009.
This marks the newest and largest investment to date in the Gordon Square Arts District.
The district is a roughly 24-block area shaping up as a Mecca for galleries, boutiques, eateries and theaters. The overall plan is to invest $30 million in creating a streetscape along Detroit, renovating Cleveland Public Theatre and building a new home for the Near West Theatre, a community theater that reaches out to disadvantaged youths.
Jeffrey Ramsey, executive director of the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization, says the Capitol is the cornerstone.
The hope is that 100,000 people will see movies there every year, he says. As an arts district, the neighborhood “needs an anchor, a catalyst.”
The Capitol will be owned by Detroit Shoreway and operated by Cleveland Cinemas, which runs the Cedar Lee Theatre and five others.
The intellectual menu will include the occasional big Hollywood movie.
And, like the Cedar Lee, the concessions menu will include locally baked pastries, fresh sandwiches and beer.
Ramsey, Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone and Joy Roller, executive director of the Gordon Square Arts District, envision the Capitol as part of a little theater district that draws visitors who stay to dine and shop. They hope the cool factor will encourage brain-gainers to buy some of the area’s new houses.
The Capitol is also an important nod to the past. Zone says his grandparents lived on West 65th Street. His parents dated at the Capitol.
“To see new life being breathed into that place is just reinvigorating,” he said.
When the Capitol was unveiled in 1921, it boasted a single screen in a proscenium above a stage outfitted with a pipe organ — live musical enhancement for all that silent action onscreen. There were about 800 seats on the main floor and another 400, arranged on ascending steps, in the balcony.
Bare bulbs surrounded a wagon-wheel-style light fixture that illuminated an intricately painted ceiling — “the color scheme is old rose, ivory and gray,” reported the April 9, 1921, edition of The Plain Dealer. Plaster columns and painted medallions decorated the side walls. A second-floor mezzanine had a decorative fireplace.
When talkies supplanted silent films in the 1930s, much of the wall decoration was covered in fabric to improve acoustics. But the theater played on through the war years and after, as the area boomed with families.
In the 1970s, it closed for a while, then reopened showing films from eastern Europe. In the early 1980s, the Capitol also screened movies from the Cleveland International Film Festival.
The last performance was a vaudeville show presented by Cleveland Public Theatre in 1985.
In 1997, Detroit Shoreway, which by then owned the Capitol as well as the rest of the Gordon Square Arcade, secured $50,000 to stem decay of the theater (roof leaks had caused significant water damage), remove some of the debris and hire an architect to draw up preliminary plans for a renovated theater and street improvements along Detroit.
Those plans sat idle until recently, when the Gordon Square Arts District emerged to lead fund raising for arts investment in the neighborhood.
Of the $7 million that the renovation is expected to cost, $4.5 million comes by way of tax-credit equity.
In this case, investor National City Corp. recoups much of its money through federal New Market tax credits granted by the government to encourage improvements in low-income neighborhoods. Federal and state historic-district tax credits also have been granted.
Another $1.5 million comes as a 2 percent loan from the city of Cleveland; $500,000 is a Cleveland Foundation grant; $100,000 is a grant from the Finance Fund; and $360,000 comes from a county Commercial Redevelopment Fund grant.
Marous Brothers Construction, designer-builder of the renovation, will donate $100,000 in services.
Architect Chris Auvil, who works for Marous, said the theater has great presence.
“I love the neoclassical nature of it — the exuberance, the digging back into historical roots. It’s just a very elegant space,” he said.
“Although we will not be able to restore everything, we want to respect what’s there.”
When the job is done, the main theater will be outfitted with 400 plush seats with cupholders. The balcony will become two 100-seat theaters.
And there won’t be a hint of old-fashioned film. Cleveland Cinemas President Jonathan Forman said the Gordon will have all-digital technology. That makes for higher-quality viewing and allows the theater to show 3-D movies, live concerts by satellite and other nontraditional programs.
West Siders have long asked Forman to deliver something like the Cedar Lee a little closer to home, he said.
“I think the audience is big enough that it can support two [independent-film] theaters in two different parts of the city,” he said.
Eight months before Gordon Square and the Capitol Theatre first opened back in the ‘20s, investors published a newspaper ad to boost enthusiasm for the project. “The Time to Pick Cherries Is When They Are Ripe!” the ad shouted in bold type.
It went on to promise that “Gordon Square will eventually be to Cleveland what Times Square is to New York City.” No one speaks in such overblown terms today.
Still, Foreman was pleasantly stunned by what he saw when he started looking at the neighborhood.
“The truth is, I had no idea what was going on in that area, and holy cow!” he said.
“There is such passion and such growth and such movement.”
While I wish them luck, the attendance figures cited in the article are pretty dismal. Hopefully, they will be able to come up with some effective promotions to get some people in the seats.
The mall’s problems are serious enough that a couple of years ago the previous landlord, Simon Properties, walked away and handed the keys over to the bank that holds the mortgage.
I believe that this is the only one of the several Magic Johnson Theatres that he has walked away from.
This is the article referred to in the previous posting:
Randall Park Mall theater struggles to survive
Name is new, seats still empty at Randall Park theater
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Plain Dealer Reporter
Movies used to be “magic” in North Randall.
The 12-screen theater there was named for basketball giant Earvin “Magic” Johnson. In late 1999, Johnson cut a ribbon and welcomed moviegoers to the glitzy new theater.
By last March, the glitter was long gone. Citing crummy sales, theater operator AMC Entertainment pulled out. And, in a final crushing blow, the “Magic” signs came down.
But all the stripped signs, the wasteland of empty parking spots — and the dying Randall Park Mall on its back — did not force the theater to close. Instead, the theater’s owners and employees banded together and began planning, promoting and pounding the pavement to bring it back to life.
They’re fighting tough odds.
Retail in the tiny village of North Randall has taken a painful, steady slide from the glory days of 1976, when Randall Park Mall opened with more than 200 stores. The property that developers once called the “world’s largest shopping center” has become a cavernous echo chamber. Sexier shopping centers sprang up within short driving distance. Developers shifted from enclosed malls to mixed- use projects and outdoor centers where shoppers could park at a store’s doors.
Urban decay, crime and some high-profile violence — a security guard killed a shoplifter at the mall six years ago — didn’t help perceptions. The thousands of nearby residents, with a median household income topping $40,000, took their money elsewhere.
Clyde Mitchell watched the theater’s patrons drain away. And Mitchell, who is 26 and has worked in theaters since age 15, saw his dream job become drudgery.
The mozzarella sticks disappeared. The nacho-cheese well went dry. Popping popcorn wasn’t much fun anymore, without anyone to eat it or spill it in the aisles.
“When I first started working here, it was really great,” said Mitchell, who started as an usher in 2000 and worked his way up to a manager’s position. “You were happy to come to work every day."
Nearly nine years later, "I’m sitting here in an empty theater,” he said.
Don Powers wants to change that. A real estate investor living in Charlotte, N.C., Powers had owned theaters but never run one. Yet when AMC bailed out, Powers and the theater building’s other owners stepped up. They bought AMC’s equipment. They found a theater management company in Cincinnati. They kept getting first-run films.
And they came up with a new name: O Theater. (The “Magic” name was too expensive to keep. And “Ohio Theater” was taken.)
A new slogan: “O What a Bargain!”
And new prices: $5 tickets Monday through Thursday, with movies for $7.50 on weekend nights.
Darrel Shaw, another longtime employee and the theater’s manager, has been handing out coupons to family, to friends — to his pastor at church.
Even the coupons, offering two tickets for the price of one, aren’t boosting traffic much. On a weekday, employees are lucky to sell 15 tickets. On blockbuster weekends, they might see 400 people.
The theater’s largest auditorium seats 720.
Employees have seen their work hours, and paychecks, dwindle. To save on energy costs, they don’t start a movie unless patrons show up.
“That’s very difficult for us, because we’re sitting in a theater all day that doesn’t look any different than anybody else’s theaters,” Mitchell said. “On the one hand, you’re getting paid to work. But on the other hand, you can’t really do your job.â€
Instead of taking tickets and pouring popcorn, they clean, talk, listen to music, watch television or, Shaw said, brainstorm ways to boost business.
And they wonder about the mall. Whether Burlington Coat Factory and Sears, the remaining anchors, will follow Dillard’s, JCPenney and Macy’s out the door. Whether the lingering collection of nail salons, jewelry shops and stores touting gold teeth and tire rims does the theater any good. Whether there’s any truth to rumors that mall owner Whichard Real Estate might sell.
“We hope somebody’s going to get that mall and turn it around,” Powers said. “I know it’s not doing well right now, but I think it has some possibilities. I’ve seen other shopping centers turned around, and I’ve turned shopping centers around myself.”
Whichard, which bought the mall in 2004 for about $6 million, did not return repeated calls seeking comment. Cuyahoga County records show the company owes more than $200,000 in unpaid property taxes and has taken out multiple mortgages on the mall. The mall’s on-site manager declined to comment. David Smith, mayor of North Randall, also did not return repeated calls.
“If they’re not going to do anything with it, they should make it clear,” Mitchell said of the mall, which is surrounded by storefronts vacated by Circuit City, Toys R' Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods and other retailers during the past decade.
The area has seen some bright spots, including Ohio Technical College’s recent decision to move its PowerSport Institute into more than 200,000 square feet once occupied by JCPenney. Mayor Smith previously told The Plain Dealer that mixed-use development, not just retail, is important to the village’s future.
Mitchell and other theater employees hope for a cinematic happy ending.
“I have to explore other opportunities as far as getting another job, with how hard times are right now with jobs in this country,” Mitchell said. “I’m pretty sure I can get another job without a problem. But I’ve been doing stuff that I love.â€