The curtains are set to close on a longtime West End movie theater.
The Westhampton Theater at 5706 Grove Ave. will close at the end of this year as new owners, who quietly purchased the property last spring, consider their options for the future of the 77-year-old movie house.
The property was sold to the Cametas family for $1.75 million in March 2014 through their real estate holding company Westhampton LLC. It had been owned by Regal Cinemas, which still operates the two-screen theater but has plans to shut it down.
According to a statement, the Cametas family has enlisted broker Jason Guillot of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer “to explore its options in light of the news that Regal Cinemas will be winding down operations.”
“In the coming months, we plan to engage the surrounding community, including neighborhood associations and area businesses, and the City to develop a plan for the property that honors the historical significance of the Westhampton Theater and the Libbie and Grove corridor,” the statement continued.
Guillot did not expand on any additional plans the family may have in store for the 14,500-square-foot theater and its 1.3 acres. But it seems they’re not done snatching up real estate on that block of the coveted Libbie-Grove corridor.
Last week, the family also closed on the purchase of the Long & Foster office two doors down at 5702 Grove Ave. It paid $2 million for the 6,300-square-foot office through Westhampton LLC.
The properties are separated by the Continental Westhampton restaurant at 5704 Grove Ave. That property is not owned by Westhampton LLC.
The Cametas family includes the late Dr. John Cametas, who founded Richmond’s Pembrooke Occupational Health in 1989. His son, Stefan Cametas, is the company’s president. Pembrooke now operates as eScreen Inc., a firm it merged with in 2010.
As to the decision to wind down operations of the theater, Regal spokesperson Russ Nunley said the Westhampton, known for playing alternative, independent films, has been considered underperforming for at least four years
“It has not been pulling its weight,” Nunley said. “That’s not unusual for two-screen theaters.”
Nunley said two-screen movie theaters are not viable economic options anymore because they don’t generate enough money to justify the staff. Small theaters still need the same number of employees as a 10-screen theater, Nunley said.
“We’re working in reality,” he said.
There is no set closing date for the Westhampton Theater yet. Nunley said if the new owners have a need for the property to close earlier or later than the end of December 2015, Regal will work with them.
The movie theater’s current staff will have the option to move to one of Regal’s other Richmond-area theaters. Nunley said the company does not provide the number of employees working at a specific theater.
The Westhampton Theater was built in 1938. It has 750 seats between its two auditoriums.
Regal operates six other theaters in the area, including the Commonwealth Center on the Southside, United Artist West Tower Cinemas on West Broad Street and Short Pump 14.
Long & Foster plans to remain in its Grove office for the foreseeable future under its new landlord, Long & Foster spokesperson Mark Randall said.