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Carmike Cinemas to remake Chapel Hills theater complex

By: WAYNE HEILMAN
October 16, 2012
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Carmike Cinemas has big plans for Chapel Hills Mall — and we do mean big.

Carmike will close its 15-screen theater complex at the mall on Oct. 26, then demolish that building and an adjacent vacant former Kmart store to make way for a 13-screen complex featuring a 600-seat auditorium equipped with a screen that will be 80 feet wide and 3½ stories tall.

The Carmike 13, scheduled to open next fall, will have entrances from both the parking lot and the mall and will feature stadium-style seating and one-stop ticketing and concession stations, said Terrell Mayton, Carmike’s director of marketing. The new theater will be the first in Colorado to include the company’s “BIGD” auditorium, which includes a 3½-story wall-to-wall screen, 7.1 surround sound and digital projection of both two- and three-dimensional movies using equipment that produces higher resolution than high-definition.

“This project has been envisioned many years ago, but all of the elements fell into place during the past four or five months,” Mayton said, referring to mall owner Garrison Investment Group’s purchase of the former Kmart store for $5 million in February and the hiring a year ago of Urban Retail Properties to manage Chapel Hills. “Urban is know for revitalizing malls that have gone through challenges, and we have worked with them previously to build BIGD complexes in malls they manage in Cleveland, Tenn., and Decatur, Ala.”

Garrison will build and lease the new complex to Carmike for 15 years. The project ends uncertainty about the mall’s east end, which has suffered since Kmart closed its store in 2009. Garrison bought the mall for $71.5 million last year and has been remodeling the 1.2 million-square-foot center on the north side of Colorado Springs. Garrison is trying to attract tenants to replace a Borders Book & Music store that closed in 2011 when the chain shut down and an Old Navy store that moved to an adjacent center, also in 2011.

Victoria Harley, the mall’s general manager, said Urban is negotiating with potential tenants she declined to identify for the two spaces as well as space formerly occupied by the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office. Burlington Coat Factory, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dillard’s, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Sears remain as anchor tenants.

“Carmike’s leading-edge complex is unique to the area and represents a huge leap forward in the entertainment options Chapel Hills Mall can offer people in the Colorado Springs-Denver-Pueblo corridor and surrounding communities,” Harley said in a news release. “Carmike Cinemas has been here with us for many years and we applaud their leadership in bringing this state-of-the-art facility to our tenants and shoppers. The entertainment complex will be a significant amenity for Colorado Springs and the region and a key addition to our local economy.”

Carmike was an original tenant of Chapel Hills with nine screens when it opened in 1982; it added six more screens in a 1996 expansion that increased the complex to 2,500 seats and 49,000 square feet. The new Carmike 13 complex will include 2,900 seats and 55,000 square feet of space. The demolition of the 88,000-square-foot Kmart store will allow the mall to expand parking adjacent to the theater complex and create entrances that will allow visitors to enter the theaters directly or through the mall, Hartley said.

The Carmike 13 will be the company’s 24th BIGD complex.

Carmike is the nation’s third-largest theater operator with 2,215 screens at 235 theaters in 36 states. The company has agreed to acquire another 16 complexes with 251 screens in seven states from Rave Reviews Cinemas LLC in a deal that is scheduled for completion next month.

Contact Wayne Heilman: 636-0234 Twitter @wayneheilman
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