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Curtain drops swiftly at movieplex

By ANNE LINDBERG
Published April 25, 2007


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The eight-screen Seminole movieplex, the only theater complex on the western edge of south Pinellas, has closed.

Last week's closure came with little or no notice and without explanation.

"We were really sorry that we had to close it down. It was a business decision," said Craig Graham, a managing partner of Seminole Theater Co. LLC, which had run the multiplex since October 2002.

Graham declined to comment further about the reasons for closing. Graham said he and his partners have no plans to reopen the theaters but he is unsure whether Seminole Mall's owners or managers plan to replace the cinema.

Sheila Quintana, district property manager for RMC Property Group, which manages the mall, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

RMC also didn't return calls from Seminole Mayor Jimmy Johnson, who also called to discover the reasons for the abrupt closure.

"My theory is it had to do with the lease agreement," Johnson said Monday.

Johnson said he also suspected that the decision to close the movies has something to do with the recent sale of the mall.

Downtown Seminole LLC, a Delaware corporation, bought the mall Dec. 15 for $35.7-million, according to county records.

There has been no announcement of any proposed changes at the mall, and no one has approached city officials about changes. Rumors are rampant throughout the city about the mall's future.

Johnson said Monday he thought the theater closure was a "strong indication that something new's going to happen."

Thus far, the mall's new owners have failed to endear themselves to neighbors, many of whom are seniors who live across from the approximately 39.3 acres.

The major bone of contention regards the mall walkers who traditionally walked around inside early in the morning.

Since the new owners took over, walkers have been banned until 10 a.m. when the stores open. That's despite the fact that the mall doors open at 9:30 a.m. for a barbershop and an attorney's office.

Earlier this year, Quintana said the decision was for the walkers' safety.

"At that time of the morning, we don't have a lot of staff at the mall," Quintana said. "There was a concern that, if there was an incident of any sort ... we didn't have enough staff to cover that."

At that time, Quintana said the mall was considering starting a walking club or other program that would encourage people to use the building for exercise. She did not rule out allowing walkers to come into the mall earlier than 10 a.m., but said the mall would not go back to allowing folks to walk as early as 7 a.m.

That was several weeks ago, and no changes have apparently been made in the new policy. Johnson said that was one of the issues brought up during a community forum a couple of weeks ago.

[Last modified April 25, 2007, 07:29:34]


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