VOL. 116 | NO. 79 | Tuesday, April 23, 2002
New cinema slated for Service Merchandise site
Newest Malco going up on former retail site
By MARY DANDO
The Daily News
East Memphis moviegoers will soon have a 14-plex cinema in their midst.
Earthwork has begun on Malco Theatres Inc.s $6.2 million movie theater on the old Service Merchandise site, 584 S. Mendenhall Road.
Construction on the 54,015-square-foot complex should be completed in time for a spring opening next year, said Kenny Farrell of Kenneth Farrell Co.
Farrell is project manager in association with Lance Forsdick Jr., president of Grace Construction Co., general contractor on the project.
He said his company had demolished the old building several months ago, and has now completed the preliminary site work and laid out the perimeter for the foundations.
Rob Price of Atkins Buchner Price Architects is the projects architect.
Malcos goal is to create an experience similar to that of an old-world European cinema but with all the latest technology.
"This is going to play all the major films. Itll have a nice atmosphere similar in many ways to the Studio on the Square an old-world type of environment," said Jimmy Tashie, Malcos senior vice president.
The entrance to the theater will have a piazza lobby with a fountain and a skylight allowing as much natural light as possible.
If it all goes as planned, it should look and feel very much like a European garden, he said.
"We want to create an atmosphere so when you come into the lobby, itll have an old-world feel what were stressing here is a European-type feel as far as where you are," he said.
Although the atmosphere may be old-world the technology is 21st century, he said.
"Of course, once you go into the auditorium, its going to be a major cinema experience. Theres going to be a large-screen format," he said.
Farrell, who also is working with Grace Construction on building another Malco project the first stadium-seated movie theater in Tupelo, Miss., said the most outstanding part of the Malco experience is the quality of sound used.
Malco uses the George Lucas THX sound environment system. One of its vice presidents, Mike Thompson, is certified by the Lucas organization to install and certify these systems throughout the nation.
Malco has been using the system since 1987 and is the only company in the Memphis area using it, Tashie said.
Farrell said another feature is Malcos commitment to providing wheelchair-accessible seating in the middle of the theater.
"Malco, in my opinion, is one of the leaders in the film-exhibiting industry for providing seating options for people who are wheelchair-confined. Malco goes to great lengths working with their architects and contractors," Farrell said.
In order to provide these options in the new theater, Tashie said they were excavating further down to build ramps that would go much higher than to the front of the theater.
"Im very much a person who does not like to see people in wheelchairs have to strain their necks to watch something because theyre too close. Hopefully, we can achieve what we have been trying to do in the last three or four theaters to get them where theyre part of the general audience more," he said.
The cinema complex also will include a large cafe serving pizza, other specialized foods, desserts and coffee. There also will be a video game area, Tashie said.
Like Studio on the Square, the goal is to provide a place where patrons can enjoy themselves before and after the film, he said.
"Theres be something there that will appeal to everyone," he said.
Tashie said the company is still undecided about the new movie theaters name but it is now between two names and should be announcing the chosen one soon.