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WHITE PLAINS-Quincy Amusements, a subsidiary of National Amusements Inc., of Dedham, Mass., has signed a lease with Cappelli Enterprises of Valhalla to operate an 80,000-sf multiplex theater at its proposed City Center development to be located at the former Macy’s site in the downtown district here. The theater will feature 15 screens and accommodate 3,500 patrons.

The lease was signed on Tuesday and is for a 20 year-term, according to Bruce Berg, executive vice president of Cappelli Enterprises. The transaction marks the first signed lease at the 1.2 million sf, City Center development to be built at the former Macy’s department store site on Mamaroneck Ave., and Main St., and adjoining property. The $300-million venture is nearing the end of the approval process. In fact, the development, which will feature approximately 600,000 sf of retail space and 600 rental apartment units, is expected to receive final site plan approval by the City Council on Sept. 20. Earlier this week the council voted to approve a special permit that allows Cappelli to build two 34-story tower buildings on Main Street, and E.J. Conroy Drive. The residential component of the project which totals approximately 600,000 sf, would include 560 apartments located in the two tower buildings and 40 townhouse units in a low-rise structure.

Commenting on the importance of the lease deal with Quincy Amusements, Berg says, “They are the first tenant. It is a major momentum builder. The other tenants that we are negotiating with have been very interested in this transaction.”

He notes that Cappelli is currently in negotiations with other retailers for the remainder of the retail and restaurant space that will be built at the former Macy’s site. Berg adds that Cappelli has already completed all the necessary asbestos abatement work at the vacant Macy’s and has begun demolition of the store.

Berg says that the deal with a movie theater operator is significant not only for the project and for the city of White Plains, but also due to the fact that most movie theater companies are in difficult financial straits.

In late 2000, TishmanSpeyer Properties attempt to build a retail center at the Macy’s site failed when it could not secure financing due to the fiscal woes of its lead tenant–movie theater operator Loew’s.

Quincy Amusements is a subsidiary of National Amusements, which operates 1,390 screens in the U.S., United Kingdom and Latin America. National Amusements is a highly diversified company and is the parent of such concerns as Blockbuster and Viacom.

He relates that Cappelli had been in discussions with five movie theater operators, but decided to finalize the deal with National Amusements in part because “it was the most solid and financially stable” of those firms that were interested in City Center.

Other components of the project include a 10,000-sf community theater, a public park/promenade separating the retail and housing developments and a $37-million parking garage that would accommodate 2,150 vehicles. The city of White Plains is expected to contribute $23 million to help pay for the parking facility.

Cappelli Enterprises, which first revealed its interest in developing the downtown White Plains site when it acquired the former Macy’s property in April for more than $50 million, has been successful in expediting the regulatory process with the city of White Plains and has expressed hope to obtain all approvals by either August or September of this year.

Berg says that if the City Council grants final site plan approval on September 20, Cappelli expects to close on its financing and begin construction on City Center shortly thereafter.

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