Thursday, March 10, 2011

RO official says no plans to close Main Theatre

Royal Oak’s planning director Tim Thwing told Windsor Detroit Film (WDF) he knows of no plans for the venerable Main Art Theatre to move from the corner of Main Street and 11 Mile Rd. That’s despite speculation in the past that the owner of the property might move the theatre as part of a plan to redevelop the wider northeast corner of the intersection known as Main North condo-retail project.....My March 6 WDF post below reprints a Detroit News article from 2005 about the Landmark Theatres-owned Main being considered for a move by property owner Joseph Freed & Assocs. But, Thwing told me today, that idea likely has long fallen by the wayside because the parcel on which the Main sits was never developed as one of three phases of Main North. “My understanding is the lease runs for a few more years and then there’s an option to extend it,” he said. “There are no plans for it to shut down that I’m aware of.”.....Thwing said Freed originally was going to develop the Main site as a retail-condo tower similar to its new tower immediately north of the theatre along Main Street. There was also a plan to build a similar tower immediately to the east along 11 Mile. But then the real estate market crashed so Freed stopped planning. The east parcel subsequently has become home of the new Emagine theatre complex, slated to open in May. It’s of course located in the Main Theatre’s backyard. Thwing said there are no current plans for redeveloping the Main site.....Thwing said Emagine shouldn’t threaten the Main because the two theatres cater to different markets. “Every conversation I’ve had (with Landmark company officials) - they feel they’re not competing in the same market as Emagine”......As an aside, going back several years when Freed was considering redeveloping the Main site, Thwing said one of “the early plans called for absorbing” the theatre into the Main North project “but they couldn’t arrange or make the deal go forward”.....So it seems the Main is here to stay or until such time as after the lease runs out and the market improves for redeveloping the property.....As per earlier WDF posts I could obtain no comment from Freed or Landmark and an Emagine spokeswoman says her theatre shouldn’t threaten the Main because the two companies screen to different audiences – Emagine mainstream, Landmark art house....I also asked Thwing if there is adequate parking for the Emagine complex, so that customers attending the 10-screen multiplex don’t overwhelm the smaller Main’s already limited parking lot. Thwing said a separate parking structure to the east of Emagine will serve that theatre. There is also surface parking. He added that there was, ”a lot of discussion” by Royal Oak elected representatives and residents with regard to whether Emagine had enough parking. “Some of them are happy with the number, some of them are concerned it’s not enough. I guess we’ll wait and see how it operates,” he said.....But, he said, “I think we’re all happy that Emagine is here.”

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