Naperville's Ogden 6 owner plans to reopen Kendall 11 theater in Oswego
It won't be exactly on Ogden anymore, and it won't have the same name.
But the company behind Naperville's longtime Ogden 6 has bought another theater and intends to reopen it.
Classic Cinemas has purchased the Goodrich Kendall 11 theater from its earlier owner in bankruptcy proceedings and plans to revive it as Classic Cinemas Kendall 11 when the COVID-19 situation allows, owner Chris Johnson said Monday.
The Oswego theater, at 95 Fifth Street, is off Route 30, slightly west of Ogden Avenue. And it's a couple of towns over from the Naperville theater it will serve to replace within the Classic Cinemas chain.
But Johnson said he and about 20 of his former Ogden 6 employees are excited about the new site and the opportunity to bring the movies -- with a characteristically guest-friendly atmosphere -- back to life in Oswego. They're especially happy to reopen after the Ogden 6 made its COVID-19 pandemic closure permanent because of future redevelopment planned for its leased property.
"The theater is in really good shape," Johnson said about the Kendall 11. "It just needs a little help getting back open, and we're excited to do that."
Ogden 6 Theatres closed March 16 amid a wave of shutdowns required during the early phases of the pandemic. If not for the spread of the new coronavirus, it would have had to close by July 31 anyway.
The Ogden Mall where the theater was renting space is set to be largely torn down to make way for Naperville's second Costco warehouse, which will replace a long-vacant former Kmart.
Despite an online petition to save the theater that drew 21,550 signatures, and despite an informal offer of assistance from the city of Naperville, Classic Cinemas couldn't find another site in Naperville that would work to relocate the Ogden 6, Johnson said.
The opportunity to relaunch the Kendall 11, however, seems a good fit because it's "a lot better than bringing a new theater into the marketplace," Johnson said. Its location isn't too nearby any other movie theater, and it serves some guests from south Naperville, meaning it won't have to build an entirely new customer base.
After what happened at the Ogden Mall -- being forced to leave because of a property owner's decision to sell -- Johnson said his company is satisfied to be more in control.
"We were able to buy the property rather than being beholden to a lease," he said.
The most frustrating thing about the Kendall 11 plan is not being able to estimate a timeline for the theater's reopening, Johnson said.
Classic Cinemas reopened most of its 14 theaters June 28 when Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan began, but then closed them again two weeks later. It wasn't worth the cost of operating for 50 people per theater without any new movies to show, Johnson said.
With the Kendall 11, Johnson said, he would rather wait out some of the pandemic challenges and open in better days.
"Ultimately," he said, "it's a long-term play."