Few express interest in reopening cinema

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Armory Drive 3 Cinemas has been closed since January 2008. According to an agent for the property manager, there have been a few inquiries to rent the space. -- STEPHEN H. COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the third in a series of stories about what’s happening with some of the vacant commercial buildings in Western Tidewater.


FRANKLIN—Although the skin of the Armory Drive 3 Cinemas has sagged since it closed in January 2008, its skeleton is essentially intact.

That is, the sloping floor, balconies and projection booths are available for anyone interested in reopening the movie house, said Angelica Beltran of Wheeler Real Estate, which is looking to lease the theater, as is, for $4,115 a month for owner Christopoulos Family LLC in Virginia Beach.

“There has been some interest in leasing the property,” Beltran said. “I’ve shown it two or three times in the fall and winter. It still has the bones for a theater. It’s still open to bringing back an entertainment venue.”

An unnamed couple expressed great interest in reopening the theater, but personal affairs prevented a commitment, she said.

Otherwise, there has not been much response, Beltran added.

Any renovation would be “significant,” such as leveling the theater’s floors or changing the projection technology to digital, and predictably “cost prohibitive to convert into a retail store.”

Beltran said she’s contacted movie theaters within a 50- to 100-mile radius, but has gotten no takers.

The units next to the theater are also available for rent.

Former owner Howard Gainey closed the theater to reduce his business properties because of his advancing age. Issues of continual upkeep, such as heating and cooling, and a leaking roof, were also a factor in the closing.

Donald Goodwin, director of community development for the city, said a certificate of occupancy was issued May 23, 1990.

For more information, contact Beltran at 757-627-9088 or 866-203-4864.