By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer
ANDERSON TWP. - A new Showcase Cinemas, featuring more than a dozen screens, could be a coming attraction for this eastern Hamilton County suburb's mall revitalization project.
"We've spent two years working to bring a theater to Anderson Township," said Russ Jackson Jr., president of the township's board of trustees, as he announced the plan Tuesday. "Residents have indicated a very high level of interest in a theater, and we believe we have a chance of making that happen."
Demolition on much of the former Beechmont Mall began in March as part of an initiative to both upgrade the shopping center and create a community focal point for the township.
A local investment group is negotiating with Massachusetts-based National Amusements, a nationwide owner of movie theaters, to build the new theaters.
National Amusements would operate and manage the new facility, officials said, adding that they hope to finalize negotiations soon to meet a proposed opening deadline of fall 2004.
The theater would tentatively be on the second level of the Anderson Towne Center's east side, above the streetscape area.
Officials estimate theater construction will cost about $14 million.
Ken Cairns, an Anderson Township resident and director of Vertical Base, the investment group brokering the deal, said this project has been his group's No. 1 priority.
Based on studies conducted over the past several months by National Amusements, many Anderson Township residents patronize Milford's Showcase Cinemas 16, along the Milford Parkway.
They anticipate such a business would thrive in the township.
Steve Sievers, the township's director of Development Services, said officials are looking at possibly building a parking deck on mall property.
Movie theaters with between 12 and 14 screens usually require about 800 parking spaces. Such a structure would accommodate that amount, Sievers said.
He added the lot could also meet the needs of those who use a newly constructed Park & Ride, also in the process of being built on mall property.
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