Mall’s cinemas open on May 16

The long-delayed 13-screen theater at the Colonie Center will make its premiere on May 16, mall mana

The long-delayed 13-screen theater at the Colonie Center will make its premiere on May 16, mall manager Joseph Millett said on Monday.

After missing target opening dates for the fourth quarter of 2007 and February, mall officials are finalizing plans for the opening of the third-floor Regal Cinemas.

The opening will come almost 30 months after mall co-owner Feldman Mall Properties announced a 60,000-square-foot lease agreement with the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Regal, which already has theaters in Guilderland, Latham, East Greenbush, Wilton and Clifton Park. But the Colonie theater will be Regal’s first all-digital theater in the Northeast.

The theater also serves as the final piece of Feldman Mall’s plans to turn the Colonie Center into a premiere regional mall.

“It’s the culmination of almost $100 million in development that has gone into that mall,” Feldman Mall Chairman Larry Feldman said of the Regal Cinemas.

That renovation project’s $110-million price tag is double Feldman Mall’s initial estimate. Original plans called for a ground-level theater.

A representative at a Regal office in Guilderland said it is not clear what will play at the Colonie theater because movies are usually booked a week in advance. “The Chronicles of Narnia: Price Caspian,” the sequel to the 2005 hit, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” is slated to make its nationwide debut on May 16.

The theater features an all-glass facade, stadium-style seating plus digital film projectors and surround sound systems. Challenges involved with the procurement of the digital equipment delayed the opening of the theater, said Jason Perillo, a project manager with the Turner Construction Co., which has been redeveloping the 1.2 million-square-foot mall since November 2005.

Turner Construction in July 2006 broke ground for the theater by breaking up a mall parking lot. The structure is unique in how it stands above the mall with the help of six, 80-foot-long steel columns that run through the mall and rest on foundation footings.

“It’s like a building on stilts,” said Perillo.

The Long Island-based Feldman Mall bought the mall for $82.2 million in February 2005. Later that year, it initiated the renovation project, which Turner started with interior renovations.

Since then, the mall has built spaces for an L.L. Bean retail store, a Barnes & Noble bookstore plus Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro restaurants.

During the renovation project’s peak, Turner and its subcontractors had 200 people working on the Colonie Center. Now, Turner has about three people performing touch-up painting and other small jobs at the mall, Perillo said.

When Feldman Mall announced the Regal deal in December 2005, the real estate investment trust said the Colonie mall would house a 14-screen theater. But Perillo said the plan for him had only been for 13 screens.

Regal’s Web site notes the Colonie grand opening will feature $2 movies, popcorn and soft drinks. Regal spokesman Dick Westerling did not immediately return a call Monday seeking comment.

Feldman said the Colonie Center is performing well despite the nation’s economic downturn with sales rising at a double-digit rate. The mall’s average occupancy rate for 2007 was 73 percent, the same rate as 2003. But during the same period, the mall’s average annual rent per square foot rose 31.5 percent to $26.77, according to an annual report released Monday by Feldman Mall. Feldman said he is looking to add more tenants and do more physical renovations at the mall.

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