An Albany landmark is rejuvenated by its new owners, Tierra Farms. Though faced with the threat of closure in recent history, the Madison Theatre will be open again in a few weeks time. Innae Park got a look inside to see what's in store for the long time neighborhood spot.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Excitement, not popcorn, is what's popping inside Albany's Madison Theatre as the historic building will be revamped to become a two screen theater in a few weeks time. A retail store and auditorium will eventually follow.
The owner of this Cineplex is Tierra Farms. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because the company is now the owner of the entire building, which houses their café, Tierra Coffee Roasters, right next door to the theater.
“We're going to do a lot to the front facade here. We're going to improve the marquee and concessions. We're going to put new seats in the theaters,” said CEO Darren Grout.
As for reception from the community, Grout said, “We've seen this business [café] triple, quadruple in the two years we've been here as a coffee shop. The response has been phenomenal and I think they're going to respond very well to the theater.”
Grout admits that running a movie theater isn't exactly what he and his partner thought they'd be doing with their business. However, they see it as an opportunity to showcase this building and the neighborhood of Pine Hills.
Grout said, “There's a lot of history. And we're not tearing down and starting new. We're just making selective improvement where it's needed the most.”
Writer Akum Norder says the theater was built in 1929 as one of the first in the nation designed specifically to show talking pictures.
Norder explained, “In the summer of '29, the trade magazine ‘Motion Picture News’ called it one of the finest residential theaters in New York State.”
Now the hope is to make it a neighborhood staple once again.
“Everyone who grew up near here in the middle decades of the 20th century has a story to tell about coming to the Madison Theatre to see the Saturday double features,” said Norder. “For the people who grew up in the Pine Hills, this place was a landmark!”
Grout said, “The theater needed a little love and attention, or a lot of love and attention, and that's what we're giving it.”
It’s all coming soon to this neighborhood near you.