Luxury Theater to Anchor Downtown Plaza

Redevelopment

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY AUG 21, 2017

The largest movie theater in Downtown Sarasota will soon undergo a $3-million renovation to become a luxury venue. Owners of BBC Main Plaza, home to the Regal Hollywood 20, say the updated theater will play a central role as the entire east downtown complex gets redeveloped. “We now have our anchor tenant not only committing to stay in Sarasota but to upgrade the facility to give Sarasota tenants an ultramodern theatre experience,” says David Chessler, one of BBC Main Plaza’s co-owners.

Regal renewed its lease at the plaza, which was purchased a year and a half ago by Chessler, Jesse Biter and Eric Baird. The developers say the renovation in the theater will make it into a smaller and more posh venue. Along with state-of-the-art screening technology, the venue will be equipped with reclining leather chairs and a modern bar and lounge. But the theater will also see the number of screens reduced from 20 down to 11.

That will also open up an acre of the total 8.5-acre plaza and free up some 28,000 square feet of space. With the Regal’s lease renewed, BBC Plaza owners says that are now ready to take applications for restaurant, business, retail and office rentals. Biter says the renovation on the theater will start in the early fall. In total, the project will include more than 250,000 square feet of leasable commercial space. Biter says BBC Plaza has been receiving requests from potential tenants over the past year and a half.

Of course, the Regal Hollywood 20 has also been host to the Sarasota Film Festival, which may need to work with other venues at least while the renovation takes place. SFF President Mark Famiglio noted that while the Sarasota festival holds the vast majority of screenings at a single theater, most regional film festivals spread showings around several venues. “Change is good,” Famiglio says. “We’re going to figure it out, but these are the same issues other festivals have had to deal with as well.”

The plaza has been important to the city core as it remains one of the most prominent structures in east downtown, an area which enjoys significantly less foot traffic, and theater remains one of the biggest attractors of consumers. Now, owners will seek out a balance of commercial tenants to make a place for families to enjoy. “Tenant mix is important,” says Baird. “We want to make sure Main Plaza is an unmatched entertainment destination for Sarasotans.”

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