An agreement has been reached between National Amusements, Inc. (NAI), owner of the Showcase Cinemas de Lux site in Revere, and Northbridge Partners, a Massachusetts based developer and investment firm, for the sale of the property whose connection to a movie-related business dates all the way back to 1948 when the former Revere Drive-In opened.
According to Attorney Gerry D’Ambrosio, the iconic, 22.5-acre property on Squire Road – which has housed a NAI movie theater [building] for the past 50 years – is currently under agreement to Northbridge Partners.
D’Ambrosio also confirmed that Northbridge “will situate the site” and likely lease the property to Amazon, the world-renowned online retailer, who will build a new distribution facility there. The current theater building will be torn down and a brand-new, multi-million-dollar facility will be built. D’Ambrosio will be representing Northbridge and Amazon in the redevelopment process.
The new Amazon facility would mark the company’s second major entry into the Revere economy. An Amazon delivery station opened in July at the former New England Confectionary Co. (Necco) site on American Legion Highway.
The current Showcase Cinemas movie complex occupies 102,000 square feet of space. Amazon’s proposed, state-of-the-art, last-mile facility will occupy 90,000 square feet.
Amazon employees at the new facility will work closely with the current Amazon site at 135 American Legion Highway.
D’Ambrosio said the `10-screen Showcase Cinemas complex will close once the sale of the property is consummated, “probably by the new year or so when permitting is complete.” The theater, a popular gathering place for Revere families and area movie fans for generations, has re-opened after being closed due for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
D’Ambrosio said the decision to open a second facility in the city underlines the fact “that Revere is viewed as an up-and-coming city with a lot of economic development potential. The city’s quality workforce and proximity to Boston, as well as the North Shore, make it an ideal spot. And Northbridge and Amazon’s decision to expand is a recognition of City’s excellent long-term forecast for the City of Revere is excellent.
The economic benefits for the city are numerous. Amazon’s new facility will result in more job opportunities for Revere residents. There will be a huge increase in the property taxes for the City of Revere.
“The property taxes will likely triple from where they are currently at,” said D’Ambrosio. “Those commercial tax payments to the City will go a long way in helping the residential tax rates stay lower. There will also be an increase in motor excise tax payments to the City because Amazon will be housing many of its delivery vehicles on the site. When you factor in the increased jobs, the increased commercial property taxes, the extra motor vehicle excises taxes, and the permit fees – the City is going to get substantially increased revenue.”
D’Ambrosio said that because the current property sits in an industrial zone, “the project will not require ZBA or City Council relief.”
“Regardless, Amazon and Northbridge want to continue working collaboratively with the city and they’re going to be sensitive in getting the City’s input on the new project,” said D’Ambrosio.
Mayor Brian Arrigo and Ward
6 City Councillor Richard Serino both commented on the impending closure of the
theater and the changes being proposed for the property.
“The City and our Economic Development Department are informed of the conversations about changes at the Showcase Cinema property,” said Mayor Arrigo. “Unfortunately, the theater industry has suffered an extraordinary blow during the pandemic. That, coupled with the fact that the Revere multiplex design is an outmoded concept for the industry’s future, has accelerated consideration about the theater’s viability at its current location. Showcase Cinema has been a good neighbor for all our city, and we will work with them and any future occupants of the valuable property for the benefit of all our city.”
Said Serino, in whose ward the movie theater is located, “As a Councillor who ran for office to seek more broad, commercial development opportunities for our Ward and the City of Revere, I am thrilled that the redevelopment of Showcase Cinema will be one that will not bring more residential units, but rather job opportunities for Revere residents, revenue from increased property taxes, new excise taxes paid to the City and projected to have less of a traffic impact than that of the current movie theater. I am proud to work hand-in-hand with city leaders, Attorney D’Ambrosio and Amazon officials to ensure that this will be a development we can all be proud of, and one that will be great for Ward 6 residents for years to come.”
National Amusement Inc. officials confirmed the potential sale of the property, stating, “Showcase Cinemas is deeply committed to our Massachusetts and US theatrical exhibition business. We have been a business leader in the Revere community for more than a half century. As part of looking towards the future, we continue to focus on the development, design and evolution of the theatrical experience through the opening of our new Showcase Cinema de Lux at Hanover Crossing in 2021. We also are diligently looking at potential new sites for future Showcase Cinemas locations, including in the Revere area.”