De­mo­li­tion be­gins at for­mer Newark Cin­ema Cen­ter

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL & REGIONAL - By JOSH SHAN­NON

Spe­cial from the Newark Post

— Much of the shut­tered Newark Cin­ema Cen­ter re­sem­bles a ghost town.

The seats have been re­moved and un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously piled up wait­ing to be hauled away. The pro­jec­tion room sits dark, with no signs of the equip­ment that il­lu­mi­nated the giant screens for decades. A soda foun­tain, with its hoses still con­nected, lies dis­carded on the floor where the con­ces­sion stand once stood.

In the largest of the three the­aters, a hand­ful of pop­corn – likely dropped by one of the Cin­ema Cen­ter’s last cus­tomers – is still scat­tered on the floor, serv-

NEWARK, DEL.

ing as a re­minder of the thou­sands of movie­go­ers that once flocked to Newark’s only the­ater.

Else­where in the build­ing, how­ever, there are signs of life. Dur­ing the past cou­ple weeks, crews have been hard at work tak­ing out walls in prepa­ra­tion for the $3 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion of the the­ater as Main Street Movies 5.

Over the com­ing months, the inside of the the­ater in Newark Shopping Cen­ter will be gutted and re­built, said Rick Ro­man, one of the own­ers of Main Street Movies 5.

“We’re do­ing ev­ery­thing over from the be­gin­ning,” Ro­man said.

Most of the ex­te­rior walls will re­main, but con­struc­tion crews will add on ap- prox­i­mately 5,000 square feet in the back and to the left of the cur­rent foot­print, in space that once housed an em­ploy­ment agency. Ad­di­tion­ally, the inside of the build­ing will be re­con­fig­ured, and new draperies and seats will be in­stalled.

The re­sult will be a five­screen the­ater fea­tur­ing re­clin­ing seats and self­serve ticket kiosks.

Ro­man, who orig­i­nally hoped for a sum­mer open­ing, now es­ti­mates the the­ater will open in late Septem­ber or early Oc­to­ber.

The Newark Cin­ema Cen­ter was evicted last Oc­to­ber, un­able to pay rent and af­ford needed up­grades.

Ro­man and his busi­ness part­ners an­nounced their plans for the in­de­pen­dent Main Street Movies 5 in Jan­uary. Ro­man also runs Westown Movies in Mid­dle­town, but says the Newark the­ater will be op­er­ated as a stand­alone busi­ness.

Last month, the the­ater suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned Newark’s city coun­cil to amend city code to al­low movie the­aters to sell al­co­hol. How­ever, it still needs to ap­ply for a spe­cial-use per- mit from the city to do so.

“The city has been very sup­port­ive and won­der­ful,” Ro­man said.

He also hopes to bring in lo­cal busi­nesses to sell their food at the the­ater’s con­ces­sion stand.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

The for­mer Newark Cin­ema Cen­ter will be ex­panded in the back to make room for a to­tal of five screens.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Crews are re­mov­ing the wall be­tween the for­mer Newark Cin­ema Cen­ter’s two smaller the­aters, as part of a re­con­fig­u­ra­tion plan.

NEWARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

A soda foun­tain, with its hoses still con­nected, sits where the con­ces­sion stand once was.

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