When CMX, the parent company of Cobb Theatres and CineBistro, filed for bankruptcy in April, citing the damage done by the coronavirus, it officially brought to an end Wesley Chapel’s popular movie theater in The Grove.

It also, however, has ushered in a new opportunity.

Developer Mark Gold, whose Mishorim Gold Properties owns The Grove, is remaking the popular 85,000-sq.-ft. movie theater into something that he says will be bigger and better.

“I am bringing something for the whole family,” he says. And, don’t worry, he adds, the new project will still be a movie theater, it’ll just be, “unlike any you have seen before.”

To name a few of the major changes: Instead of 16 movie screens (and roughly 3,000 seats), there will be 12 screens, with at least one or two dedicated to children. The additional space freed up by consolidating the screens will be used to create a video game area that Gold says will resemble the popular arcade and restaurant/bar Dave & Buster’s. There will be a sushi restaurant upstairs and one with more traditional American/theater food options below.

Outside, new landscaping and a mini-golf course will create an area for people to gather and make a night of it.

Gold says the entire facility will be redesigned, reimagined and most important, rejuvenated, and that there already are plans for an adjoining housing development featuring 540 townhomes and apartments.

“This is going to be an entertainment complex like no other,” says Tom Peck, the director of operations for The Grove Theater (working title).

The large arcade area — which, in most theaters, is just a small room set off to the side with a dozen or so games set up — will replace the current lobby, with games designed for teens and adults in one area, and games for younger players in another. 

At least one or two of the movie theaters will be modified to serve as a “kids zone,” with things like bean bag chairs and sofas for those watching the movie and a play area for those who’d rather climb through tubes and tunnels. The kids theater will be ideal, Gold says, for parents looking to watch a movie or enjoy dinner while their children watch something more suitable for their age.

Gold says he also is considering converting one theater into a ninja-style obstacle course for younger kids.

…and after.

The other movie theaters will carry the latest Hollywood releases and will be fitted with newer, and more comfortable, leather reclining chairs. There will be VIP theaters, will full-fledged dining options like the old CineBistro model. “The name won’t be there,” Peck says, “but the same concept will continue.”

You Still Have To Feel Safe

Gold says he is most pleased, however, with his plans to ensure safety. In an era where the Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything about the way the world does business, Gold promises that with each movie ticket, gaming pass and meal purchased, customers also will receive the one thing that will best allow them to enjoy the experience — peace of mind.

State-of-the-art cleaning equipment will be employed to keep the theater virus-free. There will be hospital-grade fog machines and ultraviolet lights to disinfect walls, floors, handles, seats and the air in between each movie, and temperature monitors at the front door that will keep those showing coronavirus symptoms from entering. 

Social distancing will be implemented, as will face masks, depending on the state of the virus when the theater opens.

“Our theater will be extremely safe,” Peck says. “It will have things in there no other company has ever been able to do because of the (costs associated with the) large number of theaters they control.” 

And, if you wonder what happens when (or if) Covid-19 finally passes, Gold says he is still playing the long game with his safety measures, because there will still be plenty of other germs out there and families will be looking to stay safer than ever in the future.

“Everyone is going to want to feel safer, more secure,” Gold says. “Even 2-4 years down the road. The idea is we will be much safer than your grocery store. This place will be 3,4, 5-times safer because we are taking all these steps.”

Only with these safety measures, Gold says, can he see his vision fulfilled, where families come out to play a round of miniature golf, enjoy a dinner together, see a movie and play some games afterwards. Instead of two hours in a theater, families can spend 4-5 hours enjoying a night of entertainment.

“It will have everything in one complex,” Gold says. “At a normal movie theater, maybe you go eat before you come, then see the movie and go somewhere else after. But, this will have everything. It’s going to be a real destination spot.”

The theater renovations, which Peck says could be completed sometime in September, are another part of a massive project at The Grove, which Gold purchased last September for $62.7 million. 

By the end of the year, The Grove is expected to have more than 60 converted and redesigned shipping containers open at the trendy KRATE by Gold Box container park, which is being built on nearly 7 acres of land just west of I-75 and east of The Grove’s big box retail stores like Best Buy and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

A host of other restaurants, bars and businesses are opening now, or are expected to open soon in “The Village” portion of the 200-acre complex.

For leasing & other info, search “Grove At Wesley Chapel” on Facebook, call (407) 636-1266 or see the ad on pg. 1 of every issue of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel Neighborhood News!

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