BRO readers have been asking what the holdup is with the Benchmark’s plans to convert the Market Arcade Cinemas into a state-of-the-art AMC theater complex. As of yet, there has been no sign of work on the proposed $9 million renovation, to convert the theater into an eight screen movie house with updated digital formatting for first run movies. When it was announced that there would be everything from luxury seating to facade improvements, there was a real sense of excitement in the air. Now people are wondering when we’re going to see some action!
There has been no movie theater in Downtown Buffalo since the property was sold by the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.
It’s been a year and a half from the time of the announcement that Benchmark had landed the deal. Since then there has not been much news about the state of the project. It’s unfortunate too, because Rocco Termini and Sinatra & Co. Realty both submitted proposals in late 2014, and both parties feel that they would have at least made some progress by now, although Sinatra does concede that sometimes there are hangups. When asked about his thoughts, Termini said that we would all watching movies (and bowling) by this stage in the game.
In the case of Termini, his proposal for theater, bowling alleys and a restaurant was in place and ready to go, although the building still needed some serious work, but isn’t that all part of the construction process? One would have to wonder about the importance of a timeline when it comes to handing out deals.
To give Benchmark credit, when interviewed by WGRZ, this past April, the company stated that it was looking at another five months for the permit and zoning process, as well as plans for construction. They also said that they had hammered out a deal with AMC. Apparently there might have been some concerns regarding dedicated parking at the M&T lot? If that’s part of the hangup, then that’s something that should get settled while work is underway. Or if the City is dragging its feet in any way, an announcement should be made sooner rather than later. At this point, the community is expecting to see some shovels in the ground instead of hearing more rumors regarding what the holdup is.
Hopefully Benchmark is close to making an announcement that the development is ready to commence. Otherwise, maybe the other proposals should be considered, if there is a serious hangup? The downtown movie theater generates a lot of foot traffic for other businesses, and helps to keep Main Street vibrant throughout the year. Not to mention downtown’s residential pioneers that expect to have access to these sorts of basic everyday life conveniences.