Less tangible are the memories attached to
The faded movie palace has shown decades of films, from 1940s war movies to "Paul Blart: Mall Cop." It was a place for first kisses, family outings and, occasionally, the discovery of the power of cinema.
Lots of old theaters created indelible memories and hold fine design details. From a business standpoint, those things usually were worth the two bits it cost to see a picture in the 1930s. Sometimes a well-heeled neighborhood can sustain a theater, as
What rarely occurs, at least in the
The plan would respect the building's art deco sweep and restore its neon signage, but also offer the latest in cinema-going, including recliner chairs and tables to hold food and beer and wine from an in-house restaurant. The goal is to transform the State into a memory-preserver that's also a going concern.
The project takes into consideration "those who are looking for something new as well as those who are respecting what was here before,"
Cinema West has muscle behind it, with 12 theaters in
Cinema West owner
If and when it opens, the new multiplex will be a big deal in
Though the State closed four years ago, it was not uninhabited when the contingent arrived. A young man and woman apparently had been holing up in the building. The police were called to roust the pair, who were quiet and compliant. They were cited and sent on their way.
It was hard to envision, from this scene -- or the empty lot just east of the theater and storefront carpet warehouse next to it, all part of the new project -- a gleaming multiplex. But Corkill can see past the obvious.
He showed this while he and Stallard examined the high ceiling of the main auditorium (the one-screen State became a triplex in the 1970s). What looked like a coat of paint atop the ceiling's original artwork is nicotine stain, Corkill said, from years of patrons lighting up while watching newsreels.
Corkill also has experience with
Cinema West opened the Palladio 16 Cinemas in the ambitious but largely empty Palladio shopping center in 2009, after other tenants had shied away because of a bad economy. An early adopter of technologies such as
"The same reason the Palladio brought Dave to their project is the reason we want him here," Hiatt said. "Not only does Dave offer a constant attraction, but Dave offers a quality experience."
There's more at cultural stake with the State than the Palladio. Residents have been vocal about wanting the theater of their childhoods preserved.
"There's a lot of emotion with people's memories here," Hiatt said outside the theater.
The city last year signed an exclusive negotiating agreement with Caceres, a
"Dave is committed to bringing back as much of that traditional experience" of the State as possible, Hiatt said. Cinema West's renovation plans include replicating the neon "State" blade that adorned the theater before the sign had to be removed when
Corkill said he has kept original light fixtures and other historical pieces when renovating other old theaters. A "number of factors" play into deciding what to keep and what to discard, Corkill said.
"There is ... whether or not (an item) is important to maintain the historic part of a project," he said. "The cost is (also) something. As much as I would like to be a purist when it comes to remodeling, I also am a realist when it comes to 'How deep are my pockets?' Fortunate (for this) building, the bones are there, as such."
Operated with enthusiasm but little money by
"Culturally, I think the
The plan entails an addition to the current theater, with eight auditoriums, on the site of the empty lot and carpet warehouse. The main theater's big auditorium will be reconfigured to accommodate space-hogging stadium seating and recliners, its seats reduced from an original 900-plus to around 300. The main building also will hold a small screening room.
The part of
"I look at it like somebody with a big smile, and there is a tooth missing every other tooth," Hollingshead, the opera fan, said of formerly empty spaces downtown. "They are putting implants in those holes."
Hollingshead, whose father,
Hollingshead also liked that Caceres backs Corkill. Caceres is "a straight shooter" who's shown a commitment to restoration already as owner of a circa-1870 business/residential building on Main. "He has totally maintained the integrity of the architecture," Hollingshead said.
Caceres will shepherd the State project until the permit stage, when Cinema West will take over. Caceres did not grow up in
"I love that fact that we are saving an art-deco building, and not turning it into an antique or thrift store," Caceres said.
The city bought the building for
The city is slightly richer now, having earlier this year received permission to use
Corkill said the timing finally became right for a downtown multiplex project.
"The leadership in
"I can go build a movie theater anywhere in the world," he continued, "but if
There was no red carpet last week, but the mayor took time out for a tour, even though he had a big night ahead -- his swearing-in that evening. A renovated State will "contribute to our historic fabric, and bring back something people will really love," Stallard said.
As the mayor continued to tout the project to a reporter, he started sounding less like a politician and more like a movie fan.
"The screen will be 58 feet wide," he said, looking dazzled. "That's wider than some
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