Flat(ened) screen? Road imperils Regal renovation

elevation-regal-seminoleWhat the outside of the new Regal Seminole Trail Stadium 9 will look like .

Regal Entertainment Group announced May 1 the renovation of its four-screen theater behind Kmart, adding five additional screens and renaming it Regal Seminole Trail Stadium 9. However, the biggest shocker of this whole enterprise– besides the fact that America was so over-screened a decade ago that most of the major chains (including Regal itself) declared bankruptcy– is that this site has been targeted for a road.

Although technically still in the planning stages, the proposed $30.5 million Hillsdale Drive Extension has already claimed the old Terrace Triple Theater and the Detail Express Car Wash, which were demolished in 2007. The City has also been in talks with Whole Foods about building Hillsdale Drive's Hydraulic Road entrance.

onarch-hillsdaleplanThe latest design for the Hillsdale Drive project shows the proposed road running through the Regal Cinema property.

According to a business impact study on the roadway, the Regal would be "negatively impacted the most by the new traffic pattern...with an estimated reduction of 20 percent in sales." Most notably, a preferred pathway appears to run through the Regal and eliminate a third of the theater's parking. In addition, the report says, the "increased traffic congestion will likely deter movie-goers."

However, according to Regal marketing VP Russ Nunley, the company has been "looking for years" for a new theater location, but finally decided to improve on its existing location.

The new theater would include stadium seating, high-back recliner seats, a new lobby, an indoor box-office, kiosks for automated ticket buying, digital surround sound and  3D projection systems, and retractable cup holders to allow for "love seat" seating. Concerts, opera, Broadway shows, and sporting events might be added.

Of course, such plans could have strategic benefits too. While Nunley says that Regal has been aware of "some kind" of proposed road plan–- information on the project, including the impact study, is readily available online at www.hillsdaledrive.org–- he says the company has never been contacted about an approved design plan or a timeline.

"We got tired of waiting," says Nunley.  "Since Regal owns the land, we can begin the process and apply for permits this month."

Despite the findings in the study, Nunley expressed hope that the proposed road project would enhance access to the new theater. Nunley says that opening date will be determined by the local permitting process.

floor-plan-regal-seminoleFloor plan for the new theater.

"The ball will be in their court," he says. "We want to make this a reality as quickly as possible."

According to Charlottesville Tomorrow, which first broke the story about the road grabbing at least part of the Regal back in November 2007, the state and federal funding that the City is counting on for the Hillsdale Drive project won't be available until at least 2015. In addition, City development services manager Angela Tucker tells CT that the City isn't yet authorized to acquire any rights of way.

"We are bound by a VDOT timeline for state and federal funding so this announcement [from Regal] makes the process more challenging," says City spokesperson Ric Barrick. " We have no plan submission to date so it’s not prudent to speculate on how we may need to adjust the current Hillsdale route."

Public hearings on the design of the project are scheduled for later this year, Tucker told CT.

–-last updated Tuesday, May 5 at 1:32pm


wtf, I think it depends on who's saying it. Some people want an OG, some people joke about it.

I don't know. When I was a kid and would visit my dad and stepmom in Newport News, Olive Garden was the "nice" restaurant that we'd go to on Saturday after payday. I thought their fettuccine alfredo was the greatest thing I'd ever eaten. And my parents were educated people who have since moved to northern VA and wouldn't be caught dead at a chain restaurant now. When I got older, my best friend's dad used to take us to Olive Garden and order calamari for the table. OG was just the "nice" restaurant in my very middle-class, white-bread world. I still hold a soft spot for OG fettuccine alfredo and calamari (yes, I know there's much better calamari out there), and if we got one here in town I'd eat there, although it wouldn't become my favorite place.

I've read similar comments several times. Do people really want an Olive Garden or is that some sort of weird joke? Why get excited about that. Have we really gotten to a point where people are too lazy to microwave their own food?

M, I guess that makes sense. Kind of reminds me of people who choose to drink the crap Starbucks sells when much better coffee is readily available at coffee shops with personality, or even Seven 11 for that matter. I just don't get why so many people choose to move here because of what a great place it is and then try to turn it into Anytown, USA.

I could go for some never ending bowl of pasta.

Last I looked Ramen was about 6 for a dollar. That means good eating for more than a week for under $10!!

Olive Garden's terrible but this town, much like with movie theaters, still doesn't have a decent Italian restaurant.

Stadium seating? Perhaps even with a decent sound system?

Let me be the first to welcome Charlottesville to the 1990s.

Funny how people seemed to be more concerned with seat quality than movie quality. I don't mind paying $10 for a movie, but there is so much crap these days I can't recall the last movie that I wanted to see in a commercial theater like that.

Nobody can really agree on how Charlottesville should be. Either it needs more of the cookie cutter chain stores, or it needs to shun all that and remain as independent and quirky and mom 'n pop and undeveloped as possible.

@Mike Wiznowski: Regarding Music Lover's comment - it was done first and better on the "Roseanne" show in the 90s. The Connors discuss getting a VCR, and Darlene quips with her usual dry, sardonic wit, "And the Connor family leaps into the 80s." ;)

Regarding Olive Garden - eh. I actually think all Italian restaurants are are overpriced and overrated. It's just the same three ingredients, rearranged in different ways. Pasta, sauce and cheese. The only thing that changes is the shape of the pasta. Then they'll charge you like, $18 a plate for the same thing you could just make yourself with Barilla pasta and sauce from Giant, on sale. White bread bread sticks and endless bowls of pasta....do people even know what that does to your colon when you eat that much undigestable food? And yes, it's undigestable. It just sits there in your gut, going nowhere. Nevermind what wheat and dairy does to people. Many are allergic (wheat gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, lactose intolerance, etc.) and don't even know it. Funny how America seems to specialize in gluttanous all-you-can-eat buffets and "endless refill" themed restaurants, but always with the worst foods imaginable. :/

Anyway, ramble over, down off the soap box...

Laugh out loud at the person discussing the digestability of Italian food!!! Nothing more obnoxious than that type of person.


Tear down the theater to make way for a road that will never be built.

Makes sense.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go shopping at Albemarle Place.


Seriously. About time this town had a real movie theater.

What took so long Charlottesville? All we need is an Olive Garden and a Super Wal-Mart.

What happened to to the plans to demolish the the theater to make room for the planned Hillsdale Connector? In any event it will be nice to have new seats!!

I thought a few years ago there was supposed to be a crisis in the movie theater business.

There are movies that come out all the time that I choose not to go see just because of our theater. I love Charlottesville, but I don't think updating our movie theater will change us. We still have great restaurants, the downtown mall, the people that live here, UVa, and all the things that give us character, but a nicer movie theater is one thing that really would be nice. There are movies that I would like to support when they're released, but choose not to see them at the theater here because the quality is not much better than at home. I am very excited about this renovation! I hope getting approval is not a length process for them.

Music Lover: hahaha! that's hilarious! rarley does a post make me actually laugh out loud.

as for having an Olive Garden, i don't see the point. To tell you the truth I would rather see a Denny's in C-ville then an OG, and that's not necessarily a compliment to Denny's. I think C-ville is well equipt with many places to eat at which are also locally owned providing greater benefit for our community.

What C-ville really needs is a Jack-in-the-Box or another chic-fil-a prefferably in the pantops area!

huh? huh??

This place makes me want to die.