New cinema boosts Richardson business climate

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by CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @CarlaNWade

WFAA

Posted on July 13, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Updated Sunday, Jul 14 at 6:19 PM

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

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RICHARDSON — It looks like efforts to attract new businesses to this Dallas suburb are paying off.

In August, the Austin-based movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will open in Richardson, and its arrival signals that the city's economic development plans are taking shape.

The Heights Shopping Center was built back in the late 1950s, and for years has been struggling to fill empty retail space.

Craig Malone's company, Hartman Investments, bought the shopping center in 2010. "We’re really excited about what's going on here... the money and the people who are going to be interested in this shopping center," he said. Craig Malone's company, Hartman Investments, bought the shopping center in 2010.

The shopping center was slated for renovations before that, but plans were put on hold during the recession. Then the city landed Alamo Drafthouse by offering generous tax incentives through an economic development partnership with the Chamber of Commerce.

"What first led us here was Central Expressway and Belt Line Road. There's really not a more prominent intersection," said Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas DFW owner Bill DiGaetano. "Then we started looking at the demographics of Richardson, which were just perfect for us."

Those demographics include young professionals and families that are making Richardson more than just the sleepy little suburb Michael Parmalee grew up in.

"I remember when there was nothing north of about Campbell," he said. "Now to see all the development in Richardson and coming from being a bedroom community to having its own active restaurants, a kind of night life scene and a lot of new things, it's really great."

On Friday, the Heights Aquatic Family Center opened. It replaced a 50-year-old pool and cost $4.4 million as part of bond program.

It and Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas represent huge investments in one of the older parts of the city.

The theater won’t open until August, but it's already establishing its presence in the community with free outdoor summer movie screening events. On Saturday night, the movie was "Dazed and Confused."

The series is attracting a crowd... and other businesses, which is ultimately what the city had hoped would happen.

"Once Alamo is open, we've got a lot of interest," Malone said. "We already have several major people looking at different places in here already."

E-mail cwade@wfaa.com

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