A movie theater with a grill is still planned for the Front Street entertainment district in downtown Hartford, but with a new operator.
The announcement that Front Street developer HB Nitkin Group has named Spotlight Theatres Inc. to replace Cinema Grill as the theater operator comes after there was no start to construction, even though a June opening had been planned. The opening has now been pushed back to the fall.
Peter J. Christian, Nitkin's director of development, did not return calls Friday seeking comment. Cinema Grill could not be reached.
Spotlight Theatres, which operates two venues in Georgia, said it plans a multiscreen venue at Front Street, across the street from the Connecticut Convention Center. The theaters will include stadium seating, high-back chairs, digital projection and an accompanying grill where patrons may order dinner.
In a release, Spotlight's president and chief executive, Joseph Paletta III, said the Front Street venue would "bring a luxury movie theatre concept" to Hartford.
Paletta could not be reached for further comment Friday. Spotlight's website shows its theaters in Georgia offer first-run movies appealing to a broad range of ages.
Front Street is being developed with a combination of public and private funds. Last spring, the exterior shell of the 60,000-square-foot complex was completed. The Cinema Grill lease was announced in November. Cinema Grill was to have occupied roughly one-third of Front Street.
Officials hope that the theater will become a major anchor for Front Street and will attract additional tenants.
The Capital City Economic Development Authority, which has overseen the direct public subsidies and loans for the project, declined to answer questions Friday, referring calls to Nitkin.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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