The now-shuttered Plaza Cinema at Chapel Hill will be demolished next week to make way for a relocated Dick’s Sporting Goods store on Howe Avenue.
The eight-screen complex, part of the Plaza at Chapel Hill shopping strip, closed Jan. 3. The movie theater had been run by regional chain Cleveland Cinemas of Solon since 2008, when AMC Entertainment did not renew its lease.
Michael M. Fratus, director of operations for the Plaza at Chapel Hill developer Visconsi Co. of Pepper Pike, said the theater operators were unable to commit to spending the money to convert to all digital format in movies from old 35 millimeter projection systems, which are being replaced industrywide.
Visconsi, which has owned and operated the retail strip since it opened in 1986, has thought of other uses for the theater building over the years, he said.
“It was more coincidence than fortunate that we were able to work with Dick’s quickly on this,” Fratus said.
In addition to the movie theater, the garden center area of the former Handy Andy, will also be demolished to make way for the Dick’s, Fratus said. Burlington Coat Factory uses the building formerly occupied by Builders Square, but the outdoor garden center has not been used and will give the developer an opportunity to give Dick’s larger space.
Fratus said demolition could begin as early as Monday. It will likely take a few days, he said, and crews will be recycling and salvaging as much of the material as possible.
Visconsi owns and leases space for all the retail stores and out-lot restaurants in the plaza except Toys R Us and Pat Catan’s, Fratus said. Visconsi, a fourth-generation, family-owned company, owns retail properties around the county, including the Plaza at Southpark in Strongsville and centers in Cleveland and Parma.
The new Dick’s store will be built in line with the existing buildings between Burlington Coat Factory and Marc’s and not set back as the movie theater was, he said. It will be a separate building.
Fratus said the store will be a new prototype for Dick’s.
Officials from Dick’s did not return phone calls or an email seeking comment.
The store will be relocating from around a corner at its current location, 1990 Buchholzer Blvd. It is unknown what will take its place. Construction for the new store will start in the spring, with an opening by sometime this fall, Fratus said.
With the addition of Dick’s, Fratus said all of the major spots in the center are now occupied, with a few minor vacancies for smaller storefronts. Appliance store hhgregg relocated to the plaza in the former Marshall’s, also from the Buchholzer Boulevard area.
“The Dick’s store is a great addition to the shopping center because it continues to keep it stable,” Fratus said.
The Giant Eagle at the western end added 40,000 square feet to its remodeled store in 2011 and opened a GetGo gas station last year. Visconsi did not target the stores from Buchholzer Boulevard to move to the plaza, Fratus said.
“Most of the activity is generated by brokers or real estate reps looking to stay in the market or relocate,” he said. “The Plaza at Chapel Hill has remained strong over the years. It’s still a high traffic, high-customer count area.”