By Sean Tubbs

Charlottesville Tomorrow

Thursday, December 31, 2009


announced in May to expand Regal Cinema 4 theater

behind the K-Mart shopping center in  Charlottesville may not come to fruition. The Regal Entertainment Group has yet to submit a site plan for an expanded theater and announced this week they may build a larger theater elsewhere along U.S. Route 29.

The news will surely disappoint some movie-goers  anxiously awaiting the arrival of state-of-the-art theater amenities such as stadium-seating and digital projectors.

The Regal Seminole Square cinema may not expand as previously announced

They have nice comfy chairs and your view is never blocked,” said Barb Pollard of Crozet. Pollard stood in line Tuesday to catch a screening of “It’s Complicated” at the Regal Downtown Cinema .

The Charlottesville-Albemarle community has four commercial movie theaters. Two are owned by Regal, a six-screen cinema on Seminole Trail is owned by Carmike Cinemas, and a one-screen theater is owned by Staunton-based Visulite Cinemas.

None of the area’s 17 movie screens are located in a theater with stadium seats, where each row is significantly higher than the one in front so all audience members have a good view.  Rows in traditional theaters have a more gradual slope.

In May, the Regal announced plans to expand its existing cinema on India Road to add five screens, some of which would include stadium seating and digital projectors. Those plans raised the alarm of City officials who had assumed the cinema would be abandoned in order to make way for the extension of

Hillsdale Drive

from Greenbrier Road to Hydraulic Road.

Location of theater and proposed Hillsdale Drive Ext. in

Fall 2008 project update newsletter (click to enlarge)

Preliminary plans for Hillsdale Drive have the road passing through the site of the current Regal Cinema 4 theater and the City had planned on negotiating the right-of-way on the property.  The $30.5 million project is currently on hold while efforts are made by the city to secure funding. Due to the ongoing recession, the state of Virginia will likely not resume funding for new transportation projects until at least 2016.

Regal has not yet submitted a site plan for the Seminole Square location to the City of Charlottesville’s Department of Neighborhood Development. Vice President of Marketing & Communications  Russ Nunley told Charlottesville Tomorrow that his company’s primary goal is to find a place for a “state-of-the-art” theater.

“After announcing our plans to move forward with a re-build and expansion at our current location, we were approached with a new proposal from another project along the popular Seminole Trail corridor,” Nunley said. “If we are successful in securing a deal, then we will abandon plans to expand our existing theatre. “

Nunley would not identify exactly where this other location might be, but a top Albemarle official says there are many options.

“I would think there’s a number of developments that are approved in the county where there’s an opportunity for that type of use,” said

Mark Graham

, Albemarle County’s director of community development.

One candidate could be

Albemarle Place

, a 1.8 million square foot commercial development planned just across U.S. 29 from the Regal’s existing location. Officials with developer Edens & Avant would not comment on whether a movie theater is currently under consideration on their site.

Even without an expansion, Charlottesville appears to be an attractive market for Regal. Nunley said his company’s Seminole Square and Downtown Mall cinemas set box office records for the Christmas weekend.


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