SEMINOLE — Residents in southwest Pinellas County went without a movie theater for years until this month, when Cobb Tyrone Luxury 10 opened at Tyrone Square Mall.
And soon, they could have two.
After a monthslong search, the Seminole City Center, formerly the Seminole Mall, finally has interest from a movie theater: Studio Movie Grill, an upscale theater company with two dozen locations across the country, including one in Tampa.
The plan for the 42,000-square-foot theater calls for nine screens and about 1,200 seats along with a food and drink menu for a dine-in movie experience, said Dale Johnson of Primerica Group One, the Tampa developer that manages the center along with owner North American Development Group.
"It's just going to be a great addition to Seminole and to the residents of Seminole and everybody around," Johnson said, adding that the center is about 70 percent leased so far.
The site plan still has to be approved by the city, said Mark Ely, community development director. But a representative from the theater said the company is committed to the new location, with a tentative opening date slated for early next summer.
"It's going to be a fabulous new development in a great location for our concept," said Lynne McQuaker, director of alternate programming, public relations and outreach for the theater company.
McQuaker said the target audience is families and young professionals. All Studio Movie Grill locations have in-theater food and drink service with menu items such as hamburgers, chicken tenders and pizza, as well as a bar offering cocktails, beer and wine. Moviegoers can grab a drink at a bar in the lobby before a movie starts and press a button for service once they're inside the theater, McQuaker said, describing the service during the movie as "discreet."
The experience differs slightly from the Cobb theater, which has a restaurant in the lobby. Customers can take food into the movie, but the theater does not have servers to take orders.
The potential Studio Movie Grill site is about 6 miles northwest of the Cobb theater, giving residents in southwest Pinellas multiple options. Not too long ago, they had to drive east to Pinellas Park, north to Largo or to downtown St. Petersburg to get their movie fill after Tyrone's six-screen AMC theater closed about a decade ago and the Seminole theater shut down a couple of years ago.
The process still has a way to go, cautioned Jeff Preston, managing partner of North American Development Group, who declined to comment on details of the theater.
Still, the update is welcome in the development of the city center, as several potential leases are contingent on the addition of a cinema, which was a priority for city officials and residents.
"It's a key addition to Seminole City Center," Mayor Leslie Waters said. "That's for sure."
Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @kathrynvarn.