The­ater de­mo­li­tion be­gins

Work un­der­way on new Main Street Movies 5

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON jshan­non@ches­pub.com

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, serv­ing as a re­minder of the thou- sands 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 ap­prox­i­mately 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 five-screen the­ater fea­tur­ing re­clin­ing seats and self-serve 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 city coun­cil to amend city code to al­low movie the­aters to sell al­co­hol. How­ever, it still needs to ap­ply for a spe­cial-use per­mit 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

Crews have re­moved the seats from in­side the Ne­wark Cinema Cen­ter, as part of ren­o­va­tions to what will be­come Main Street Movies 5.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

A hand­ful of pop­corn is still strewn on the floor of the old Ne­wark Cinema Cen­ter, a re­minder of the thou­sands of movie­go­ers who once flocked to the the­ater.

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