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DALLAS-The Dallas-Ft. Worth market has a first-run ticket for theater chains looking to unload properties that are outmoded or falling victim to bankruptcy court.

The “reel” truth is that in DFW “there just isn’t that many available,” agree two Dallas-Ft. Worth real estate executives. And when properties do come to market, a willing buyer is standing in the wings.

Most have ended up as avant garde dinner-theaters, but a few have gone the way of civic sites. One North Dallas theater is now Fitz & Floyd’s furniture store and one in Houston is now a bookstore.

“They re-lease quite easily,” Vaughn Miller, president of Dallas-based Henry S. Miller Commercial’s retail division, tells GlobeSt.com. “In the past five years in the DFW market, maybe a half dozen have closed and probably 90% have been leased.”

Miller says it’s the DFW demographics that make stars of the properties, from their locations to their end use. “What do people do in Dallas and Ft. Worth? They shop. They eat out. And, they go to movies,” he says. The region’s strong job growth makes the region one of the nation’s hardiest for retail venues of all types.

The Studio Movie Grill has opened its first 10-screen dinner-theater venue in Plano in one bankrupt chain’s property. More could be ticketed by the rising star in the theater industry should properties become available, says Miller. The region’s most popular avant garde venue is the Granada in Addison, a dinner-theater act that has been so successful that owners, in recent years, added a second location.

Greg McDonald, executive vice president of Dallas-based Weitzman Group, knows of just a couple properties that are presently available. “It’s good real estate,” says the big box disposition specialist. Anyone attempting a conversion could expect to pay $25 per sf to fill in the floor, he says, unless it’s like the one in Houston, where the bookstore still has sloping floors, with rows of bookshelves in place of seats.

The $1 Cinema has taken two properties off the market in Dallas and Ft. Worth, says McDonald. The real question is can the discount theater chain survive a market where megaplexes are practically the norm and first-run showings headline all across the metroplex.

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