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ORLANDO-Altamonte Springs city commission, eager to get going on a planned $150 million, one million-sf Town Center enterprise, has approved the project’s focal point–a $16 million, 16-screen, 3,750-seat, multiplex cinema proposed by Atlanta-based MegaStar Cinemas LLC. But a ground-breaking date hasn’t been set.

The Georgia firm signed a deal in May with Town Center lead developer Michael B. Vlass, also of Atlanta, for the 75,000-sf project at the 14.5-acre Cranes Roost Lake site.

The theater will be built at a hard construction cost of about $4,211 per seat or $213.33 per sf. The project comes just as six other area multi-screen theaters are being revived after a two-year industry slowdown.

The Cranes Roost entertainment/retail attraction, an eight-year-old, private-public partnership with Emerson International Inc., abuts the planned Town Center project at Cranes Roost Lake in the city central business district.

This is three-year-old MegaStar’s first Florida venture. The theater will also be the first in the area to offer VIP suites for small business groups or private parties; a children’s birthday party suite; and a full-time concierge for personalized customer services, concepts that MegaStar developed in 1999.

Screening auditoriums will have 125 seats to 500 seats; wall-to-wall screens; digital sound; and stadium seating on 18-inch risers and 48-inch-wide rows.

For MegaStar, the Town Center project is part of a two-year growth plan started in 2000. In that timeframe, the Georgia company opened a 4,000-seat theater at Southdale Mall in Edina, MN; a $10 million, 3,500-seat, 70,000-sf theater in Maple Grove, MN; and a 3,200-seat theater at the Mall at Stonecrest in Lithonia, GA. MegaStar has existing theaters in Chagrin Falls and Cleveland, OH; and Springfield, MA.

The company was founded in 1999 by a Cleveland investor group that owns the American League’s Cleveland Indians baseball team. The ownership group is headed by Larry Dolan and Paul Dolan. James O. McKenna, a longtime cinema industry professional, is MegaStar’s president.

Atlanta developer Vlass, managing principal of Altamonte Springs Investments LLC, is jointly developing the Town Center with James Jacoby of Atlanta-based Jacoby Development Inc.; Orlando-based Martin, Mantle and Bignon; and the city of Altamonte Springs.

Development Design Group Inc. of Baltimore, MD is Town Center’s project architect. Dallas-based Staubach Group beat out Orlando area brokerages for the leasing contract.

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