Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Cinemas not out of picture

Showcase theater planned for W. Chester despite setback

By Jennifer Edwards, jedwards@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        WEST CHESTER TWP. — The operator of a Greater Cincinnati theater chain said Monday it still wants build a Showcase Cinemas in this growing Butler County community.

        National Amusements Inc. of Dedham, Mass., had planned a new 4,000-seat cinema as part of West Chester Market Square project developed by Steiner & Associates and Neyer Properties Inc. at a site at Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Interstate 75.

        But last week, the township's Board of Zoning Appeals denied the companies a conditional-use permit to build the theater as part of a 1-million-square-foot complex mixing entertainment, restaurants, shops, housing and a hotel.

        The board said the proposal didn't meet qualifications for a permit.

        “We were really shocked that our application was shot down,” said William J. Towey, a senior vice president with National Amusements. “Although plans for this particular location have been denied, we were heartened by the public support and plan to move forward with building a cinema in the West Chester market.”

        National Amusements officials did not say where specifically they are considering putting the theater, but they did say they are talking with area developers, including Steiner.

        There are two likely options for a theater in West Chester. Continental Retail Development is building a complex with a movie theater called The Streets of West Chester at the southeast corner of I-75 and Union Centre Boulevard.

        David Kass, Continental's president, did not return calls for comment Monday. Construction already has begun at Voice of America Centre at Cox and Tylersville roads, which is expected to open next spring, anchored by retail giant Target and grocery-store chain Bigg's.

        That project's developer, John Silverman of Midland Atlantic Properties, declined comment Monday on whether he hoped to attract National Amusements to his site.

        Meanwhile, the denial appears to have killed Steiner's project. Steiner's founder and president, Yaromir Steiner, said last week his center now wouldn't be built in West Chester or perhaps even Butler County.

        A Steiner spokeswoman Monday, however, stressed that company officials have 30 days to file an appeal and are reviewing their options.

        Meanwhile, Cincinnati restaurateur Jeff Ruby said Monday he doubts he will build a steakhouse in West Chester. He had been planning on opening one in Steiner's development.

        “I have no interest in West Chester unless someone can demonstrate to me that it's something that will make sense for my customers, and Steiner does things that make sense,” Mr. Ruby said. “I'm not jumping through the hula hoops to be in a strip center.”


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