My local movie theater will be closing its doors next week, leaving only a couple remaining tenants in the troubled Block E development. The news isn’t a surprise; the theater lost a legal battle to extend its lease months ago. But for downtown residents like me, it’s a frustrating reminder that the city can’t figure out how to develop a downtown core beyond restaurants and nightclubs. And it didn’t help matters when Block E was acquired by developers more interested in opening a casino than in making downtown more livable. I doubt that most other major American cities have difficulty keeping a movie theater downtown. I hear that some cities even have more than one.
The theater itself was no gem. It had the cavernous look and feel of a suburban multiplex plopped unceremoniously in the middle of downtown (which is probably why it failed). But I enjoyed walking to the theater via the skyway on a rainy or snowy afternoon. It felt like a very urban thing to do. Now I’ll have to schlep out to the suburbs, or at least Uptown, to see a movie. Perhaps a more savvy developer will eventually open a new downtown theater that looks like it belongs in the city. Until then, look for me at your local mall-based megaplex. I’ll be the one waiting in line with a scowl on my face.