Possible second location for The Loft downtown
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Discussions are in the works that could have the Loft Theater open a downtown extension that would show first run movies.
If a deal is worked out, it would be the first movie house in downtown to show first run movies in decades.
Discussions are being held with the new owners of the 100 block of East Congress, which includes the Wig-O-Rama building.
The building was recently purchased by Peach Properties and Dabdoub Properties, a joint venture to develop the entire block, including the historic Chicago Store.
Peach Properties CEO, Ron Schwabe, said there are talks but no deal is on the table yet.
Jeff Yanc, the Loft Program Director, said the Loft administration has been discussing various ways to get into downtown for some time.
It had plans to open a "pop up" theater this summer, but because of the demands of a major renovation project at its Speedway theater, those plans were d ropped.
"After we finish the project, talks will begin again," he said, adding the project should be finished by the middle of July.
Rio Nuevo has scheduled an agenda item for its May 30, 2017 meeting to discuss the Wig-O-Rama plans with Schwabe and Dabdoub Properties.
The item does not go into detail so its hard to say how much may be presented. However, Yanc is being cautionary.
"We don't know what kind of market there is downtown for new films," he said. "So it would be a real gamble, I think."
Schwabe seemed to open the door for a one screen venture, to test the waters and expanding it to three screens if the market seems viable.
Still, even with support, The Loft may find some obstacles in running new, first release films downtown.
"There's competition issues in Tucson with chain theaters and the Loft being independent," he said. "We're in a competition with chain theaters to get new product."
The downtown market has not been tested in years, so there is no way to predict whether zoning issues may preclude showing first run movies that may be in competition with the chains.
"That's something that would have to be finalized and explored before we can even think about going downtown," he said.
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