Showcase Cinemas off Silver Lane in East Hartford shut its doors in 2006, and it's remained boarded up for years, leaving an eyesore along Interstate 84.
"When 384 came through as part of the 84 extension, the exit ramp was shut off to that area which pretty much dried up all of our retail components in that area," said East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc.
Leclerc said they're looking to change that by purchasing the 25.5-acre property that the theatre sits on and finding a developer to give it new life.
On Tuesday, city council members voted in favor of starting the process to possibly acquire the property.
"It allows us to move forward with the due diligence process, to get all of our engineering studies together and the demolition costs together so that we could go back to them with a budget, setting the stage for the money, and make sure all the environmentals are clean, and close on the property," said Leclerc.
With Pratt and Whitney close by, one idea is to build apartments there with the hope that new employees looking for a short commute and quick access to downtown Hartford will move in. Leclerc says it's too early to say what it would look like but that a feasibility study showed that about 250 units could fit on the property. It's something that could instantly increase Silver Lane's customer base.
"The new foot traffic will spur new development in the area and new retail as a result along with additional housing and entertainment and certainly that's our hope," said Leclerc.
Leclerc said it would cost around $3.4 million just to purchase the property. She said the money would come from a state grant that had originally been pegged for the Outlet Shoppes at Rentschler Field, which fell through earlier this year. If everything goes according to plan this time, the mayor would like to see the purchase of the property wrapped up by this fall.