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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Movie theater proposed for Main Gate Square

A three-story building that would house an eight-screen movie theater and several retail outlets could open near Main Gate Square in fall 2009.

The building, which would be built near the intersection of East Second Street and North Park Avenue, is still in the proposal stage while retailers are found to occupy the building’s first floor, said Jane McCollum, general manager for the Marshall Foundation.

The building would occupy what is now the parking lot between the Louise Foucar Marshall Building and the Marriott University Park, she said.

“”In order to have a theater, we need to have the other pieces of the building figured it out,”” McCollum said. “”The cost of construction is very high right now.””

The Marshall Foundation over sees property development in Main Gate Square, which consists primarily of approximately 75 shops within four-square blocks dissected by East University Boulevard and running along Park, Tyndall and Euclid Avenues.

The School of Media Arts would use two of the theater’s screens to show films produced by students, she said.

The theater group, whose name McCollum would not disclose, agreed to let the department use two of the screens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

“”It would really raise the level of the media arts department,”” McCollum said. “”They would have their own theater, which is not true of other media arts departments.””

The media arts department declined to comment for this story, directing questions to McCollum.

Once the new building is constructed, there are also plans for a walkway between the School of Media Arts, on the second floor of the Marshall building, and the new theater area, she said.

“”When we built the original five-story (Marshall) building, we included the steel that would support a walkway from the media arts department to the theater, should such be built,”” McCollum said.

The bottom floor of the new building would be about 30,000 square feet in area, McCollum said, and the three-stories would stack up to be roughly the same height as the five-story Marshall structure.

Antonio Baca, a media arts junior, is excited about the theater proposal.

“”I think that it is really sweet,”” he said. “”It actually gives us a big room other than the ILC to be able to preview all our work and everything like that.””

The Marshall Foundation is currently in negotiations with several retailers to occupy the first floor, McCollum said, but she declined to reveal candidates.

“”Our intentions, always, is to not only serve the students from a food and retail standpoint, but also to create something that makes the UA a better place to be for students, academically,”” McCollum said.

“”One very large tenant, not a traditional retailer, would add a great deal of energy to the area,”” she added.

Ideally, construction of the new building would begin sometime this year, once all the negotiations have been made, McCollum said.

Sean Hughes, manager of the Gallagher Theater in the Student Union Memorial Center, is not worried about the potential competition this new theater could pose.

The theater plays new releases, foreign films and student films, most for $3 for students.

“”We offer such cheap movies that it’s kind of a nice escape for students,”” he said. “”Being right on campus and so close to the food court – that kind of ups the convenience value of it.””

“”It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out,”” he added.

Baca said that he would be likely to see movies at the new theater if they offered cheaper prices for movies that are not new releases.

Sam McGinnis, a sociology sophomore, said that he rarely goes to see movies in theaters.

“”I think they’re overpriced, and I have the patience to wait for the rental,”” he said.

Depending on what stores will be in the new building, McGinnis said there is a definite possibility he would shop there.

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