Movieplex to Be Added to Harrisburg (Penn.) Mall

Feb. 22--A 14-screen movie theater complex will be the centerpiece of a second round of renovations at Harrisburg Mall.

Feldman Mall Properties Inc., owner of the 900,000-square-foot Swatara Twp. mall, announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with Aliance Management Inc. to operate the theaters.

The theater complex will be in a 60,000-square-foot addition behind the mall, between the Boscov's and Hecht's anchor stores. Patrons will have access to the theater complex through the front or rear entrances to the mall. Plans show no direct outside entrance.

Construction is expected to start before the end of June pending final approval by the Swatara Twp. commissioners. The theater complex is scheduled to open by the first or second quarter of 2007.

The theater complex will have the latest bells and whistles in movie viewing, including stadium seating, digital surround sound, high-back chairs that rock and a high-ceiling lobby with concessions and a cafe.

Aliance operates as the Great Escape Theatres and has 20 theater complexes, mostly in the Midwest. Its closest property to Harrisburg is a 12-screen theater in Williamsport.

Larry Feldman, CEO of Feldman Mall Properties, said in a statement that the theater complex "is guaranteed to add more than just excitement. This theater will bring a level of luxury that Harrisburg theater patrons have been craving."

Feldman said last summer that he hoped to attract a movie theater to the mall to take the property "to the next level." He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Feldman Mall Properties bought the mall in September 2003 and began a major renovation that brought in a Boscov's department store and a 200,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops store as anchors. The mall's other anchor, Hecht's, will be renamed Macy's in the fall.

Aliance, which was formed in 1997, operates 203 movie screens. It has 48 screens under construction this year and an additional 68 under development for 2007. Anne Ragains, Aliance president and CEO, did not return calls for comment yesterday.

To complement the theater complex, Feldman said he expects to announce one or two smaller anchors at the mall before the end of June. He also said other restaurants are planned for the mall property, which is just west of the TecPort Business Center along Paxton Street.

The occupancy rate at the mall is about 80 percent.

Harrisburg Mall is less than two miles from a 300,000-square-foot shopping center being built along Lindle Road, near the Route 283 intersection. High Pointe Commons, which will have a Target and a J.C. Penney store, is to open in October.