It has taken three years, but plans for AMC Theaters to take over the market arcade cinema complex are finally moving forward with a signed lease agreement with property owner Benchmark Group. A spring opening is planned.
Benchmark Group’s Market Arcade Theater LLC purchased the shuttered complex from the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency in February 2016 for $250,000. Benchmark was selected over competing proposals by Rocco Termini and Sinatra & Co. Realty in late 2014.
Benchmark is planning a $9 million renovation of the complex and AMC Theaters will run it. The eight screens will be updated to digital format for first run movies, “luxury seating,” and more. The project also calls additional improvements, including updates to theater amenities, office space and theater marquees. Benchmark expects to draw 200,000 moviegoers annually to the downtown facility.
The Market Arcade Cinema Complex consists of three buildings on Main and Washington streets. 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 had a month-to-month lease on the complex and had a management agreement with Dipson Theaters until the complex closed in June 2014.
Benchmark also purchased the two-story building housing Bijou Grill at 643 Main Street and a commercial building at 628 Washington Street.
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.