The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency has received letters of interest from four potential buyers for the Market Arcade Cinema complex. The Buffalo News has identified three of them: Dr. Gregory Daniel, developer Rocco Termini, and Sinatra & Company Realty which is buying the adjacent Market Arcade complex from the City.
As required in the City’s request for proposals, each would continue to utilize the complex as a movie theater. All are likely to tweak the center’s operation and offerings and invest in overdue facility upgrades. Formal proposals to the City are due on June 20.
The Buffalo News has details on Termini’s plan which would add ten bowling lanes to the Theater District site and significantly expand the Bijou Grille in a complex he is calling “Laverne and Shirley’s Bowling and Eating Emporium”:
Termini would retain four of the seven theater auditoriums, but would upgrade and reconfigure seating and add wait service for food and wine. He wants to include dinner-and-a-movie packages and offer cult midnight movies on weekends, like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He also would place television sets around the complex showing reruns of “Laverne and Shirley,” the television sitcom that aired from 1976 to 1983 starring Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams.
Termini said he was inspired by Lucky Strike Lanes and Brooklyn Bowl, successful businesses that incorporate bowling with music, drinking and food, and by Cinepolis, a theater chain that caters to comfort and food offerings that go beyond standard movie theater fare.
The Road Less Traveled Productions theater company and the University at Buffalo’s Buffalo Film Seminars would also continue to operate under his plan.
The Bijou Grille, located in the 55,000-square-foot, three-building complex, would expand to two stories and overlook the lanes.
Termini told the News he would need foundation assistance to bring new life to the center, a Theater District anchor for over 25 years.
General Cinema Theaters operated the heavily-subsidized eight-screen complex when it opened in 1987. After a strong opening, and attendance dwindling, General Cinema did not renew its lease and pulled out in 1998.
Angelika Film Center operated the facility for a short time and Dipson Theatres was brought on in 2000. Today, the complex is in need of significant capital upgrades such as new digital projectors.
The Market Arcade Cinema Complex consists of three components located at 639 Main Street, 643 Main Street, and 628 Washington Street. The cinemas at 639 Main Street include eight auditoriums with 1,842 seats in 33,000 sq.ft. of space. The not-for-profit Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre has a month-to-month lease on the complex and has a management agreement with Dipson Theaters.
Also included in the sale is the two-story building housing Bijou Grill at 643 Main Street and a commercial building at 628 Washington Street anchored by Via Evaluation Inc.