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Ogdensburg theater may reopen soon

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OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg Cinemas, closed in a dispute since last summer, may be reopening soon.

Owner Gilbert J. Jones on Wednesday asked the Ogdensburg Growth Fund Development Corp. for a $100,000 loan for digital projection equipment for his theater at 219 Ford St. He closed it last summer in a dispute with the city over his waterfront development projects.

“I’m willing to work with the city,” said Mr. Jones, a Plattsburgh developer.

The Growth Fund board made no decision, wanting more time to review Mr. Jones’s application.

Mr. Jones shut down the twin-screen cinema last July in a fit of annoyance with the city. He clashed with planning and development officials over alleged violations in the construction of a concession stand near the former Ramada Inn at 119 W. River St., which he owns and is renovating.

The concession stand dispute was resolved.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened,” Mr. Jones told the board. Nevertheless, “The equipment remains obsolete.”

Mr. Jones bought the theater in 1980 and over the years has invested heavily in the 9,000-square-foot property. A new roof and ventilation system cost a total of $85,000, and a $73,000 marquee was installed with assistance from a $50,000 state grant.

Mr. Jones said Wednesday he just invested an additional $42,000 for further renovations.

Yet the theater remained unprofitable when it was open, losing an estimated $5,000 annually.

Mr. Jones wants to reopen the theater by or on Easter Sunday, which this year falls on March 31. He anticipates employing 10 people full and part time.

“It’s not a one-man operation,” he said.

While no decision was made Wednesday, Mayor William D. Nelson, the board’s chairman, made it clear that Ogdensburg misses having a movie theater downtown.

“I want to see the marquee lit up again,” he said. “I want to see long lines again.”

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