posted by Ross Melnick on February 20, 2003 at 8:45 am

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — We’ve received a number of emails over the past 24 hours about the Villa and we are very excited to bring you some good news:

This came in from Grant Smith last night:

According to a news story on Fox 13 on 19 February 2003, Harmons, a local grocery store chain, bought the Villa Theatre in order to block a possible purchase by Wal-Mart, which may have wanted to demolish the theater and build a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.

Harmons currently operates a grocery store at the Brickyard Plaza, very near the Villa property, and has expressed a desire to work with the Utah Heritage Foundation on possible reuse plans for the theater. Apparently Harmons offered to let Carmike Cinemas continue to operate the Villa, but Carmike declined and closed the theater.

Reid Sondrup adds that KSL also ran that story and adds:

… the Harmon group purchased it as an investment and is open to discussion of future use of the property. Kirk Huffaker of the Utah Heritage Foundation will discuss any part the Villa might play in future development. It was stated that demolition is not imminent.

Sean Means, who has been covering the developments for the Salt Lake Tribune published this story today:
Salt Lake Tribune article

And finally, Kirk Huffaker, Assistant Director of the Utah Heritage Foundation, released this statement via email yesterday:

I am pleased to report the following information obtained and confirmed today. You may see it in various news reports also.

The new owner of the property, which we believe was recorded today, is the corporation that owns Harmon’s grocery stores. They bought the property as an investment property. The new owner offered Carmike Cinemas the opportunity to continue to operate the theater but they declined.

The theater is not in immediate danger of being demolished by the new owner. In our conversation today, they have expressed willingness to discuss possibilities for the theater with Utah Heritage Foundation.

Thank you to all our supporters near and far for their lobbying and rallying efforts.

We’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this effort in getting the word out about the Villa and its closure. Special thanks go to Grant Smith, Reid Sondrup, Howard Haas, Bryan Krefft, Sean Means, and everyone else who notified us about these developments.

Of course, a special thanks goes to the Utah Heritage Foundation and, of course, Harmon’s Grocery Stores. Let’s hope this has a happy ending.

(See below for more of today’s news and events.)

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