Lincolnshire movie theater could get makeover

A developer's plan to renovate the Regal Cinemas theater in Lincolnshire and build a 302-unit apartment complex there has been met with mixed reviews from village officials.

Trustees and Mayor Elizabeth Brandt enthusiastically supported the movie side of the proposal, which would reduce the number of the Regal's screens from 21 to 15 and also would see new seating and sound systems installed. Regal's enormous IMAX theater would remain and also would be upgraded.

But they weren't thrilled about the residential component.

“I'm very concerned about building 300 boxes ... and having 150 empty boxes,” Trustee Mara Grujanac said Monday during a public discussion of the plan.

The Regal is a cornerstone of the City Park shopping center, which is on the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Aptakisic Road. Other notable tenants include the Wildfire and Big Bowl restaurants and the new Emporium arcade bar.

Developer Scott Greenberg of the ECD Company — the firm that owns the Regal building — unveiled the proposal Monday during a committee-of-the-whole meeting. It was just a preliminary concept presentation, so no formal action was taken.

Greenberg was joined by Jerry Grewe, the vice president of real estate for the Regal Entertainment Group, an architect and other consultants for the two-hour pitch.

Greenberg and Grewe said ticket sales at the Regal have been dwindling, in part, because of the recent opening of the AMC Hawthorn 12 theater in nearby Vernon Hills.

The theater, which opened in 1998, had about $5.2 million in sales in 2015, Grewe said, down a few million from previous years despite a year-end boost from “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.” Those receipts put the theater in the middle of the pack for the 588-location chain, he said.

If ticket sales continue to slide, the theater could close by 2018, said Greenberg, a Lincolnshire resident whose firm developed City Park in the 1990s. And that would hurt City Park's other businesses, which draw moviegoing customers, he said.

“There will be a catalytic effect,” Greenberg said.

Reducing the Regal to 15 screens would put the movie house closer in size to the theaters being built today, which typically have between 12 and 14 screens, Grewe said.

But he predicted more people will come to the Regal if they replace the stadium seats with electric recliners and improve other elements of the moviegoing experience.

The work could cost as much as $5 million, Grewe said. The company is willing to invest the money as soon as this year and even extend its lease for the building, he said, but only if the apartment-complex part of the project moves forward.

“The two pieces have to come together,” Grewe said.

Proposed as two buildings, the apartment complex could have a swimming pool, grilling facilities and other upscale amenities. It would be built on land now occupied by part of the Regal and on a section of its parking lot.

Greenberg described the target residents as young professionals who would rather rent than buy a house or condominium. Ideally, they'd be employees at some of the large companies headquartered in Lincolnshire, such as Aon or Sysmex, he said.

And they'd be a new audience for the Regal.

But village officials weren't sold.

“You've got a bigger challenge than you think you do, trying to fill this thing,” Trustee Gerard Leider told Greenberg.

Other trustees were troubled by Greenberg's lack of information about tenant parking and the interior designs of the apartments.

“There's far too many questions,” Trustee Tom McDonough said.

Greenberg said he'd happily develop some of those specifics and return to the board, possibly later this month.

“I'm here to work with you,” he said.

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An outdoor pool area is part of this architectural concept plan for an apartment complex in Lincolnshire. Courtesy of Village of Lincolnshire
This is a preliminary rendering of a proposed apartment complex at City Park in Lincolnshire. Courtesy of Village of Lincolnshire
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