It’s a long way from a done deal, but if all goes well the curtains will rise at a new movie theatre in Saline before Christmas.
Paul Glantz, CEO and founder of Emagine Entertainment, confirmed Friday that his company has plans to convert the former Country Market grocery store into a luxury movie theatre.
“It’s not a done deal. We are still in the planning stages. There are 16 things that could go wrong. But we’re excited,” Glantz said. “We’re in chop-chop mode. If everything goes forward as we like, we hope to be open before Christmas.”
Glantz said there are several reasons why Emagine Entertainment, which has 80 screens in nine Michigan theatres, chose Saline.
“We like the neighborhood. We think the market is underserved. We think it’s a great market with consumers who will appreciate and very much value our offering,” Glantz said. “We’re intensely focused on the guest experience. We give people a compelling reason to leave their homes to be entertained.
What will Emagine offer in Saline? Glantz said the Saline location would be very similar to its Macomb Township theater, which opened in 2014 after being converted from a grocery store. In Macomb, amenities include:
- Leather reclining seats.
- Stadium seating in nine theater rooms.
- Huge screens.
- A full-service bar with wine and 12 beers on tap.
- Cafeteria style concessions, ice cream and self-serve sodas and slushies.
Glantz said the Saline location would house nine or 10 screens. The theatre will screen the popular movies and blockbusters of the day.
The theatre would employ about 40 people.
The deal isn’t done, Glantz said. Among the hurdles are financing and site plan approval and building permits from the city.
City of Saline officials are excited about the potential development. Perhaps none more than Mayor Brian Marl, who has made the trek to the Canton Emagine Theatre on Ford Road many times.
“I am intimately familiar with Emagine Theater. Nobody in the greater Saline community is more enthusiastic about this great Michigan company than I am. It’s a great business and this is a very exciting development,” Marl said.
Marl said the theatre would serve a need in the community, attract visitors to Saline, and help bolster a gateway shopping plaza that has struggled to fill its storefronts.
The vacant grocery store is located in the Commons at Sauk Trail at Michigan Avenue and Industrial Drive. In December of 2014, AF Jonna purchased the deteriorating shopping plaza for $4.3 million at a bankruptcy sale. In that time there had been talks about using the Country Market space as an indoor sports facility or as a church. Country Market closed in June of 2012.
Katie Spence, who with her husband Jeff owns Mancino’s Pizza and Grinders in that same shopping plaza, would be thrilled to see an Emagine Entertainment theater in that space.
“Mancino's would be thrilled to have the space in our complex filled with an Emagine Theatre. Not only would it be great for the businesses in our complex, it would give our citizens another great place to spend their time and dollars,” Spence said. “My family loves the movies and we wouldn’t need to travel to Carpenter or Jackson Road to catch a movie on the big screen.”
Terri Sibo-Koenig, of the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, said such a development would be great for the community.
“We’re always looking for entertainment venues for people in this community so they don’t have to leave town,” Sibo-Koenig said.
She said that businesses in Commons at Sauk plaza stand to benefit.
“We have members (of the chamber) in that plaza. Having that vacant for so long has been hard on them. So this would be great for them,” Sibo-Koenig said.
Saline has been without a movie house for decades. In 1938, Wesley Gilpin and Lewis Lash opened the Saline Theatre at what is now Benny’s Bakery.