Colonial Plaza Cinema

155 Thomaston Avenue,
Waterbury, CT 06702

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SBC Sonderling Broadcasting Corp. Opened a three screen theatre in the Colonial Plaza in 1971. A first run theatre, it was in competition with Cinema I-II-III at the Naugatuck Valley Mall.

Screen 1 had a 400 seat auditorium and a large Cinemascope screen. “Saturday Night Fever” played here for one year! The theatre closed in the mid-1980s and was reopened a few years later by Gary Czlapinski. It closed again in 1999.

Contributed by Edward Guinea

Recent comments (view all 3 comments)

shoeshoe14
shoeshoe14 on December 30, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Cinematour has it listed as Colonian Plaza Cinema 4.

Lost Memory
Lost Memory on February 19, 2007 at 6:08 am

This is an 8/10/1999 article about the closing of this theater.

“Waterbury, Conn., Movie-Theater Owner Closes Business to Pay Tax Bill.

Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Author: Marks, Brenda

Aug. 10 — WATERBURY, Conn. — After pouring his life savings into the discount Colonial Plaza Cinemas on Thomaston Avenue, Gary Czlapinski faced a tough decision when a city tax audit added $22,312 to his tax bill: He closed the business and laid off his six employees.

Movie posters have been pulled down from the walls. Food counter shelves are bare. Video games that used to line one wall are gone. And a sign in the window with a computerized picture of a sailboat says simply, “Closed for Vacation.”

Czlapinski said he’s unsure what will happen next. But he is not on vacation. He’s working another job so he can pay his tax bill.

“I wasn’t able to make a profit as it was. I got another job to help keep the theater open. But the taxes are the straw that broke the business' back. Taxes were the deciding factor for me,” he said on Monday. “I’m going to have to sell my assets just to pay the taxes.”

Czlapinski’s troubles started earlier this year. That’s when Northeast Financial Management Associates, which was hired to audit city businesses, reviewed Czlapinski’s records. His four-screen theater business is listed as Cambridge Theatre Circuit. The assessment audited personal property for grand lists 1995, 1996 and 1997, adding the $22,312 to Czlapinski’s tax bill. He was assessed $4,800 for the 1998 grand list. The city gave him 30 days to pay the add on, said Jeff Coulson from Northeast Financial.

Czlapinski said he received a bill close to $30,000, which included some typical sheriff’s fees for overdue payments, in late July.

Since Czlapinski was not making money from Colonial Plaza Cinema, he got another job to help make ends meet. He’s also managing the Holiday Cinemas 10 across the street from where the old Naugatuck Valley Mall used to be.

“I used up all of my savings and I borrowed some, just to keep the theater running,” he said. “I ran this business at a bare minimum. I put in 16 hour days. And then I took a second job.”

After he received a certified letter at the end of July, Czlapinski decided to shut the cinema. His last full day of business was Thursday.

Elected officials say they don’t want audits to force businesses to close.

“Why is there such a big discrepancy? If there is a more than $22,000 discrepancy, something has to be wrong,” said Cathy Awwad, a city alderman. “Did he dispute it? Did he under report something? We don’t need businesses closing but everyone needs to pay their fair share.”

Czlapinski said he wasn’t aware he could dispute Northeast Financial’s findings.

Mayor Philip A. Giordano said that is a “poor argument.”

“Their rights are outlined in the letter businesses receive. We’re not out to hurt anybody. But the $22,000 he didn’t pay gets spread out to others that live and do business in this city,” he said. “Imagine if every business didn’t pay what was fair. You’d be picking up the burden.”

Giordano said Northeast Financial has identified $4 million that wasn’t reported by businesses.

That’s little consolation to Czlapinski, who opened Colonial Plaza Cinemas in early 1995 with high hopes and a love of the cinema. As a youngster from a family with six children, Czlapinski saw how tough it was for a large family to go to the movies together. Since his family couldn’t afford the movies, he wanted to offer movies at inexpensive prices to others, he said.

A former Bristol teacher, Czlapinski saved money from that job and worked a second job for most of his life. By doing that he was able to sock away $100,000, he said. It was the $100,000 he used to buy new seats, a projection system and a cooling system in the Thomaston Avenue cinema.

“There is no more light at the end of the tunnel,” Czlapinski said. “I don’t know if I’d ever put my life savings into a business again, knowing what I know today.”

The closing of the theater leaves yet another gaping hole in the Colonial Plaza. Built in 1961, the plaza has lost tenants for several years. Most of its 30 storefronts sit vacant. In 1986 the plaza sold for $7.3 million to a limited partnership, The Colonial Plaza Shopping Center Limited Partnership".

MillennialSaint
MillennialSaint on September 23, 2010 at 8:54 am

I spent some of my best weekends growing up watching movies at this cinema. Here is where I saw Star Wars series, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Blade Runner, and countless other films. I remember sometime around ‘82-83, there was a special screening of “House of Wax” with Vincent Price, & it was standing room only. When the cinema closed in the mid-80’s, I used to go to another theater near the Naugatuck Valley Mall. When it re-opened again, it wasn’t the same. I’ve been out of the Wtby area since 1999, but still remember this theater. In the same plaza there was an old “Travelers’ Insurance” building which was converted to a video store in the early 80’s. I think it was called “Video Loft.” Does anyone remember this??

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