Moviegoers will soon no longer need to venture to Christiansburg to see a flick.
In a press conference Wednesday morning at Bull & Bones, Dave Street of Blacksburg ADF Partners, LLC announced that they entered a deal with Frank Entertainment to develop a 12-screen IMAX theater in First and Main Shopping Center on South Main Street.
“I'm pleased to announce that yesterday we concluded our negotiations with the Frank Entertainment company out of Philadelphia,” Street said. “Later this spring, we will break ground on our new cinema complex, the CineBowl & Grill.”
The 60,000 square foot complex will be developed by Frank Theaters, a division of Frank Entertainment, in the grassy field to the left of the current shopping center. The 100-year-old company operates 25 theaters in eight states.
“It will have the first IMAX theatre in this neck of the woods,” Street said. “We think it's going to be something very special for First & Main.”
The CineBowl & Grille will be Virginia’s 13th IMAX theater and the first in the region. The theater will also include the Red Brick Grille, a restaurant serving Americana cuisine, as well as an arcade and bowling lanes.
Blacksburg APF Partners began speaking with Frank Entertainment in the fall of 2012. According to the partner’s attorney Jeff Mitchell, Frank previously planned to build a theater in First and Main, so it was aware of the market and the property. Although the company decided not to develop in 2008, the company is fully committed now.
“They seem very confident,” Mitchell said. “Since the press conference, we have already been engaged in steps to move the project forward, so it's moving at a very quick pace.”
The First and Main center was built in 2008 near the beginning of the recession and was originally planned to have a theater built by Frank Theater’s. However, like many businesses, the theater failed to materialize.
In 2008, Diana Elder of the smoothie and wrap shop Elderberry’s told the Collegiate Times that the theater was the original draw for her business and many other businesses to come to the site because of the potential foot traffic. Elderberry’s closed in August 2011.
After the project struggled to fill store spaces, Wells Fargo, the lender to the project developer, took ownership of the property and failed to find a buyer for a year and a half.