February 2, 2005

Developers Plan For Downtown Theater

Print More

Students rushing to catch a movie at the Pyramid Mall may soon have the option of going downtown instead.

A new movie theater is planned for the parking lot between the Tompkins County public library and the mental health center on Green Street. If approved, construction on the theater will begin next year and should be completed in six to eight months.

The multiplex, a joint project between Ithaca’s Department of Planning and Development, the Ithaca Downtown Partnership and private developer Steve Bloomfield, will have eight to twelve screens and show first-run movies, the type played at the Pyramid Mall.

According to Bloomfield, the theater will also have stadium seating, “state of the art features, top-line audio and visual equipment.”

The proposal for a theater came about two years ago, when the Planning and Development department sought developers to redesign areas of downtown.

The purpose of the new development is “to bring new activity to downtown, increase the property and sales tax base, and more fully utilize under-utilized land,” said H. Matthys Van Cort, director of the Department of Planning and Development.

In addition to the theater, apartments are also on the agenda. “The housing brings people into downtown and makes it more of a 24-hour place,” Van Cort said.

“The theater will bring people downtown in the evening, which will bring more foot traffic generally and bring people to restaurants and bars.”

Currently, the only downtown theaters are Fall Creek Pictures and Cinemapolis, which primarily show either independent or foreign films. Because the new theater plays mainstream movies, Van Cort believes the three theaters will actually help each other.

At this stage, the Planning and Development Department is helping Bloomfield put together a financial package for the theater, which is estimated at 8 million.

However, “numerous different types of local approval are required for this project to proceed,” Van Cort said.

“So far, we’ve gotten a very warm reception at the various boards where we have already discussed this.”

Some Cornell students expressed a diluted interest in the theater.

“If it were closer than Pyramid and cheaper, then I’d go,”said Krystal Wang ’07 said. “Only if I had to pick between the two,” Wang added.

Other students believe upperclassmen will have an interest in the theater. “Once you get into sophomore years, it’s easier to drive around and get to other places in Ithaca,” said Todd Kasen ’05, who goes to movie theaters on a monthly basis.

Bloomfield is optimistic about the appeal of the theater. “I think anyone who goes to movies will choose this first,” he said.

Archived article by Xiaowei Cathy Tang
Sun Staff Writer