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WORCESTER, MA-Hollywood Theaters has signed a 15-year agreement with Berkeley Investments Inc., to place a 12-screen, 2,000-seat cinema complex at Worcester’s $563 million CitySquare project. The deal gives the theater owner its first complex in New England.

The region’s strong demographics and rapid growth were key factors in Hollywood Theaters’ decision to locate in the mixed use project planned for downtown Worcester, according to Barbara Smith-Bacon, with Berkley Investments. “It meets their overall strategy,” she says, noting that the firm, the seventh largest theater chain in the country, is on “a growth spurt.”

Construction of the theater complex will begin in the second quarter of 2007 as part of the first phase of the 2.1-million-sf CitySquare project. The theater complex will take about two years to complete, Smith-Bacon says.

The CitySquare project will be a mix of shops, offices and residential uses, including 400,000 sf of street-level retail and entertainment components, on the site of the failed 20-acre Worcester Common Outlets mall in the center of the city.

Officials from Portland, OR-based Hollywood Theaters could not be reached by GlobeSt.com in time for deadline but in a statement released by the company, Scott Hall, senior vice president of real estate for the theater chain said the company has been eyeing the Worcester market for awhile. “Its central location, transportation access and large population of college students make it a smart strategic move for us,” Hall says.

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