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Pottsville plans to add movie theater to draw business downtown

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The Pearl Theatre may have found a new home atop a refurbished parking deck in downtown Pottsville. This photo shows the parking deck that would have to be demolished and rebuilt. (Contributed)
The Pearl Theatre may have found a new home atop a refurbished parking deck in downtown Pottsville. This photo shows the parking deck that would have to be demolished and rebuilt. (Contributed)

The Pearl Theatre Stadium 8 may have recently closed its doors along with the other tenants of the now shuttered Schuylkill Mall, but the movie theater could see new life in a new spot.

The theater’s owners say they plan to open their venue atop a refurbished parking deck in downtown Pottsville.

“We’ve been looking at various other sites, we started working with the mayor and his team, that seems to be a spot that works for everyone,” said Gina DiSanto, co-owner of the Pearl Theatre. “We have a letter of intent; we all need to secure financing.”

Dick Yuengling, owner of the iconic D.G. Yuengling & Sons Inc. brewery, gave $2.8 million to help the city build a new parking deck, said Savas Logothetides, executive director of the Pottsville Area Development Corp. and vice president of the Pottsville Business Association.

The proximity to the Yuengling brewery could be a further draw for the theater business, he added.

The older deck has to be torn down and a new one needs to be built to meet the city’s parking requirements. The movie theater would sit atop the new deck.

Logothetides said demolition could start within the next 90 days. City officials still need to go through several steps of the process before design for the construction can begin, he added.

The city is seeking state and federal options for funding for the multimillion dollar project.

The parking garage is at a strategic point to the city’s downtown and key to its revival efforts.

“The placement of the parking garage is right outside the central business district,” Logothetides said. He thinks the theater could do stronger business in the downtown environment.

The theater attracted about 135,000 to 150,000 people per year when it was at the Schuylkill Mall and DiSanto said it would attract a higher amount if it were in downtown Pottsville.

“It will be a great asset and completely change the dynamics of the business climate here,” Logothetides said.

The theater owners will hire about 50 full and part-time employees, which is about the same amount it had at the Schuylkill Mall location, DiSanto said.

She estimated the theater could open in about a year and half. The city and the theater owners still have to secure financing and rebuild the parking garage and outfit the theater.

The new theater will have eight auditoriums, all with full recliner seating, reserved seats and would continue to have auditoriums for those patrons who are 21 years or older. The theater will have a full bar area and patrons can bring alcohol to watch the movies in those auditoriums, she said.

DiSanto said she and theater co-owner Bruce Taffet have not established a venue name yet. It is unknown if it would continue to be named as the Pearl Theatre.

“We’re very excited for that opportunity to be in Pottsville,” DiSanto said. “We think it will be good for the city to have entertainment every day of the year, a lot of opportunities that would be good for the city.”

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Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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