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Buffalo clears way for new AMC Theater downtown

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A plan to bring a national movie theater chain to downtown Buffalo has cleared a major hurdle.The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency has authorized the sale of the former Market Arcade Theater, located at 639 Main Street in the city's Theater District, to The Benchmark Group, an Amherst-based real estate and development firm that plans to bring AMC Theater into that space early next year.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who led Thursday morning's announcement, said The Benchmark Group is paying $250,000 to purchase the building.

"The ultimate investment that Benchmark Group will make in bringing AMC Theater to Buffalo will be nearly six million dollars," Brown added.

The AMC Theater in downtown Buffalo will feature the same digital projection technology and stadium seating as what is found in AMC's currently operating theater in Amherst.

"We expect, once we close on the property, that we will begin our portion of the work - roof, HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) and mechanical systems - right away," said Steven Longo, Chief Operating Officer of The Benchmark Group. "The idea is once we have the final timeline from AMC, they'll begin their construction. Right now that's anticipated to be January of 2016 with an open date of April of 2016."

Next door to the theater space is the Bijou Grille, which has enjoyed business for more than two decades from patrons of the neighborhood's stage theaters, including Shea's. Owner Bea Militello, when asked about the forthcoming arrival of AMC Theater, said she looks forward to having a business nearby that will attract people while those other theaters are in their off-season, during the summer.

"We do have that gorgeous waterfront and people go down there all summer. This end of town is kind of desolate for those two months," said Militello. "It will be great to have something open and people walking by, and seeing that we're still here in July and August."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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