By Edward B. Colby/Dedham Transcript
Posted Oct 22, 2009 @ 07:00 AM
Last update Oct 22, 2009 @ 03:28 PM
DEDHAM — Nearly two months after the opening of the Showcase Cinema de Lux movie complex at Legacy Place, the historic Dedham Community Theatre is struggling. Its sales are down significantly, including what owner Paul McMurtry calls “some glaring examples of business being very slow” – such as a few nights when the theater closed early after no customers came for the 7 o’clock shows.
McMurtry said he had never experienced that since he bought the theater in 2002. “It has been somewhat concerning for us, and not only for me and for my business, but for fellow merchants in Dedham Square,” he said of the drop-off. But, he emphasized, “We’re not pushing the panic button yet.”
Dedham Square Circle’s executive director, Amy Haelsen, said the economic impact of Legacy Place on the 82-year-old theater has long been expected, but it is still concerning, as the theater, the anchor of Dedham Square, has a ripple effect on the surrounding businesses.
Haelsen said in 2007 when as Legacy Place was going through permitting process, two hired consultants predicted the development’s biggest potential impact would be on the two-screen community theatre. Her group successfully lobbied then to reduce Showcase Cinema de Lux from 16 to 15 screens. The previous Showcase Cinemas on the site had 12 screens.
“We’ve been bracing ourselves for this for the last two years, and I feel like we’ve worked really hard to prepare and get ready for the opening of the theater” through marketing the Square and other projects, Haelsen said. “We’ve been doing a lot of right things in preparing for this, but there are a lot of things that are out of our control, unfortunately.”
Haelsen said because the community theater draws moviegoers, its presence is a boost to business at surrounding cafes and restaurants.
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