Topic: AMC Sundance 11 - Houston Tx Closed.
From: Monterey Park, CA
Registered: Jun 2003
posted January 09, 2008 03:19 PM
AMC closes its iconic Sundance 11
Sundance Square plans to replace the movieplex with a conference center.
By Sandra Baker
FORT WORTH — AMC Theaters Sunday night closed its iconic art deco 11-screen location on Houston Street in Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, and is consolidating it operations into its nearby AMC Palace 9 on East Third Street next to the Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Houston-based Norris Conference Centers has now leased the 40,000-square-foot theater space and will soon begin renovations to reopen the facility in the fall for executive meetings, trade shows and other events, said Johnny Campbell, president and chief executive of Sundance Square.
Norris Conference Centers approached Sundance Square nearly two years ago about opening a location downtown, Campbell said.
With AMC nearing the end of its lease at the Houston Street location, where it has been for 16 years, Campbell said they were able to work out a deal for Norris and at the same time fulfill a concept idea to be able to offer executive meeting space in Sundance Square, the 40-block downtown office, shopping and entertainment district.
Campbell said he is often asked if there is meeting spaces available in Sundance Square. Fewer companies have offices with sufficient training and conference space, and now look to outside vendors for those services, he said.
“We see that squeeze getting tighter and tighter,” Campbell said. “Norris’ full conference and meeting room facilities in Sundance Square will meet growing convention traffic and meeting facilities requests. There is a great demand for this type of space in downtown Fort Worth and this partnership will enable us to bring additional business to the area.”
Andy DiOrio, a spokesman for AMC Entertainment based in Kansas City, Mo., declined to say how sales were at its Sundance 11 location. He said the company typically closes its older theaters in favor of its newer locations. Sundance 11 opened with great fanfare in late 1991, while the Palace 9 opened in 1996.
Both locations often showed the same movie line-up, but lately the crowds seemed greater at the Palace 9 location, market observers said.
“Palace 9, with its stadium seating, fits our guests’ expectations. We felt it best to consolidate operations,” DiOrio said.
Employees at Sundance 11 are being offered jobs at other AMC locations, he said.
The theater played a huge role in initial efforts in the revitalization of downtown. When it opened it was state-of-the-art theater that was built to bring people back downtown. It was built at a time when most movie theater chains were leaving expanding in the suburbs.
The theater is a part of the 12-story development, Sundance West, owned by Fort Worth real estate developer and financier Ed Bass. In addition to the theater, Sundance West has 59 apartments and 15,000-square-feet of other retail space, including the neighboring pizza restaurant, Uno Chicago Bar and Grill.
Todd Reynolds, Uno’s general manager, said business at his restaurant might slow down until the conference facility opens, but he doesn’t anticipate any long-term negative impact without the bright lights of the theater’s towering neon marquee.
“I’m going to nostalgically miss that thing,” Reynolds said of the theater.
This will be Norris’ fourth facility, but first in a downtown location. It has facilities in Houston, Austin and San Antonio.
Linda Hampton, Norris’ executive vice president, called downtown Fort Worth “impressive” and said their clients have been requesting facilities in the Fort Worth/Dallas market. The company likes Sundance Square for its mix of restaurants and shopping that event-goers can walk to, she said.
“The whole environment has a nice energy to it,” Hampton said.
Norris plans to keep one of the smaller theater rooms with its slanted floor and theater seating, but it will level the floors in the other theater rooms and remove the outdoor ticket booth, Hampton said.
The facility will have six executive meeting rooms for such things as corporate meetings, training and sales meetings, and trade shows, she said.
The center can also be used for social functions such as corporate parties and wedding receptions. The company said it will use catering services from Sundance Square restaurants, and local audio/video providers and other hospitality-related vendors to support their operations.
The facility will have staff of about 15 employees, both full and part-time, Hampton said.
Hampton said they will begin booking events when they have a definite opening date.
SANDRA BAKER, 817-390-7727
SUNDANCE 11 THEATER
# Seating capacity: About 1,900
# The late Gov. Ann Richards took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony prior to an invitation-only screening of For the Boys, starring Bette Midler and James Caan.
# For the first 10 days of the theater’s opening, moviegoers won posters, T-shirts, movie tickets and a trip to Las Vegas.
# The movie theater opened to the public showing The Addams Family, Cape Fear, Beauty and the Beast and An American Tail: Feivel Goes West.
# The theater closed showing Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, National Treasure: Book of Secrets.
Source: Star-Telegram archives
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727
| IP: Logged
From: Fort Worth, TX
Registered: Feb 2003
posted January 15, 2008 05:29 PM
This is disappointing. Even though the movies at the two theaters often overlapped, each theater usually carried one downtown exclusive. Having 20 screens downtown also freed up the occasional screen for an art house title, which, are typically hard to find in Ft. Worth proper (typically, the art house fare that does make it to Tarrant County usually ends up at the AMCs in Arlington and/or Grapevine, or pops up as part of the Modern Art Museum's weekend screening schedule).
Fort Worth proper is oddly underscreened anyway. Most of the theaters in town are aging, and I think the Ridgmar Rave is the only theater built this decade. The two theaters near Hulen Mall, close to where I live, have been extensively remodeled in the last year, when the new owners (Starplex and Movie Tavern) took over. Other than that, everything is getting pretty dated, and losing downtown's flagship theater won't help a bit.
(Full disclosure: My boyfriend works at the Hulen Movie Tavern)
| IP: Logged