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A state grant-funded loan program may enable Ogdensburg Cinema to reopen

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State financing may enable an Ogdensburg movie theater closed since summer 2012 to reopen.

Developer Gilbert J. Jones said Tuesday he was surprised and encouraged by Monday’s announcement that the state Empire State Development Corporation’s Board of Directors approved $400,000 for the Development Authority of the North Country to help north country theater owners as part of $40,142,296 in funding intended to create and save jobs in New York.

Mr. Jones, who owns the Ogdensburg Cinema I and II theaters at 119 Ford St., is especially interested in the DANC allocation, as it will be used to establish a revolving loan fund to help north country movie theater owners buy digital film projection equipment.

“I’ll call them,” Mr. Jones said. “I think that there’s hope here.”

Last April, Mr. Jones refused to accept a $60,000 loan for his shuttered cinema from the Ogdensburg Growth Fund Development Corp. The deal was for the loan to be paid back in five years at no interest for two years and 2 percent annually for three years after that.

Mr. Jones wanted $100,000 to purchase digital projection equipment for each of his two theaters. His counteroffer of $60,000 at no interest for four years was rebuffed by the Growth Fund.

The Growth Fund’s offer was figured to reflect its formula of $15,000 for every 35-hour-a-week, full-time equivalency job created. Mr. Jones originally calculated for 12 full- and part-time jobs over a three-year period, including a manager, film booker, projectionists, concession workers and a custodian. He subsequently changed the request to seven full-time employees.

At first blush, Mr. Jones said, the ESD program looks promising.

“I think it looks like a good program,” he said. “I’d like to see it all work out.”

Mr. Jones purchased the 9,000-square-foot, twin-screen, 448-seat cinema in 1980. He has since spent $85,000 on a new roof, $52,621 on an upgraded ventilation system and installed a $73,000 marquee that displays paid advertising.

Mr. Jones knows the downtown cinema is missed by the public — a public that has resigned itself to traveling from Ogdensburg to theaters in Canton, Potsdam, Massena and even Watertown to watch a movie.

“Every time I go to Lowe’s, someone asks me when the theater is going to open again,” he said.

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