RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Raleigh will soon be home to a cinema reviewed by Time as the “best theater ever” and by Wired as “the coolest theater in the world.”
Alamo Drafthouse will open a 660-seat venue with 11 screens, a restaurant, and a beer hall featuring dozens of local brews. Its neighbors at Longview Center on New Bern Avenue are thrilled to have a big attraction moving in.
“I’m super excited and happy that something’s going in there that will be real nice and bring people to the area,” James Gartland said.
Gartland owns and operates Longview Chiropractic at the shopping center. He went into business there in 2002, but said shops there have had a hard time after the closure of the anchor store a couple years later.
“Once the Winn-Dixie left, everything started to go downhill, and foot traffic left. Then there was multiple tenants in and out on different sides,” he said.
“That just completely started scaring everybody away, and obviously as the property started going downhill, then it was harder and harder to get new people to come in.”
Gartland kept waiting for the largest storefront to reopen, but years passed without any progress. He said there were discussions with potential tenants include a grocery store, a flea market, and a package store.
The property developer allowed the Salvation Army of Wake County to use the former Winn-Dixie as its Christmas Cheer Center for several seasons. Thousands of children received toys from the charity. Earlier this year, Salvation Army spokesperson Lizzy Adams said a new tenant signed a contract on the space, leading the charity to move out in March.
“They’ve been very generous with us here, pretty much giving us this space in kind, and so we’ve had a wonderful partnership with Hobby Properties over the past five years,” Adams said in March as the Salvation Army removed items it stored at the site.
On Tuesday, Alamo Drafthouse revealed itself as the new occupant.
Gwen Jones at RDU Insurance said she learned about a theater moving in next door when construction crews began work a few weeks ago.
“This is really going to bring people from all around, so I’m totally excited about it,” Jones said.
“Everybody in the area is quite excited. You’ve got all ages in this area, you’ve got people that have been here for years, you’ve got new people, you’ve got children, and it’s gonna really make a big difference.”
The New Bern Avenue Corridor Alliance said Alamo Drafthouse is a great anchor for the area and is in a prime location between the beltline and downtown Raleigh. Alliance director Dan Douglas said the increasing population downtown do not currently have a multi-screen theater and this can serve as their community venue.
Douglas said New Bern Avenue will soon see the expansion of rapid transit as well as a multi-purpose path connecting downtown with the Greenway. This will allow people to take buses and bicycles to Alamo Drafthouse.
“We think it’s going to change the dynamic of the corridor, give us a new anchor, and we think it will help to bring new businesses into the shopping center. And be a good place for the neighborhood to hang out,” he said.
“They’ll have some first run movies, some indy movies, and some targeted to the whole family, so it should be a place that welcomes everyone.”
Douglas also praised the creation of more than 150 jobs. Alamo Drafthouse said it plans to hire employees from the surrounding neighborhoods.
A company spokesperson said the goal is to open by the end of 2017.
“It sounds like it’s going to be a big attraction and I’m excited for the people in the area, I’m excited for myself, obviously (having a business next door). There will be foot traffic here again and then also when I get done at the end of the day I might be able to go over and see a movie and get a bite to eat,” Gartland said.
“I’m glad that somebody took a chance and I think it’ll pan out and I’m happy that they’re going to be here.”
The Alamo Drafthouse is also well-known to those who have ever seen a movie at an Alamo location that there is a zero tolerance policy for those who talk or text during the movie.
The company has a PSA featuring an angry voicemail left by a customer who was kicked out for texting during a movie.
WARNING: This video contains VERY STRONG language that some may find offensive
According to the press release, the company has started hiring some positions for their Raleigh location.
The Alamo will be taking over what used to be the Salvation Army of Wake County’s Christmas Cheer Center, which closed in March.