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Theater still in mayor#039;s plans

After years of trying without success, the City of Greenville is continuing its efforts to land a movie theater, so says Greenville's mayor, Dexter McLendon.

According to McLendon, the dream almost became a reality in December, but the city got the rug pulled out from under it at the last moment.

"We had a company we were working very hard with last year," McLendon said. "There was to be an announcement in December, but the week before (the announcement) their financial people backed out of the plan."

McLendon said the city had been working with a movie theater company based in Ft. Payne.

"It was very disappointing," he said. "But we're not going to give up on this project. We've got another movie theater company we're in negotiations with. The bottom line is that we're going to get a movie theater."

While McLendon is confident the city will land a theater, if one doesn't come, he said there are other options to fill the old Wal-Mart building that sits empty on the Interstate.

"We have seven or eight companies from restaurants to outlet centers that are interested in the building," he said. If a movie theater doesn't come, then we'll rent the whole building out.

When and if a movie theater does come, McLendon said the city will install a satellite police station in the building to make sure the experience of seeing a movie is a pleasant one.

"It won't be manned 24-hours a day, but there will be a police presence in that area," McLendon said. "We don't want people hanging around outside the movie theater that might cause problems. We want it to be a family place and be safe."

McLendon also addressed rumors dealing with the theater project. One in particular, he said, was making the rounds that the city council didn't want a movie theater if it was going to show R-rated movies.

"There's nothing further from the truth," McLendon said. "The council has told me they want a movie theater and Greenville needs another reason for it citizens to stay here and spend their money instead of taking it to Montgomery."

McLendon also said he's met with the management and staff of Winn-Dixie regarding a rumor about the city not supporting the grocery store and the other businesses in the old Wal-Mart complex.

"We assured them that we do want (Winn-Dixie) to be there and we're committed to trying to help all the businesses in Greenville, whether they're on the Interstate, the bypass or downtown," he said. "This mayor and council wants Greenville to grow in all areas.

McLendon said there is no timeframe established on when the company they're in negotiations with will make a decision on the movie theater, but said if something can't be worked out in the next six months, the city would move on with renting the old Wal-Mart building to "another retail store of some kind."

"In my heart I still feel like we can get a movie theater," he said. "The ball is in their court."