The sequel to Cape Ann Community Cinema is set to make its world premiere at Whistlestop Mall at the beginning of 2020. “The office is officially open now,” cinema owner Rob Newton said. “(A) grand re-opening party is planned for January 2. We are planning to resume regular programming on January 3.”
The Rockport Board of Appeals voted unanimously Wednesday night to exempt Cape Ann Community Cinema from a zoning regulation that forbids indoor theaters at Whistlestop Mall. Now, the theater will begin moving into the about 2,750-square-foot space on the second floor of the former IGA building.
“We filled up the meeting,” said Newton of his supporters. “Most of the people there were there for us.”
After the decision was made, Newton led about 20 Cape Ann Community Cinema supporters on a quick tour of the new digs. Newton recalled how “they were very surprised at how almost ready the space is.”
Now, staff are organizing the contents of the cinema, including the two 30- and 50-seat screening rooms. Newton expects painting and construction of a handicap restroom will begin on Nov. 19. A soft opening is currently scheduled for sometime around Christmas week. The cinema will also have some type of presence at Rockport’s First Night celebration.
Previously, Cape Ann Community Cinema was located at 21 Main St. in Gloucester. Harbor Front Development Inc., the theater’s former landlords put the space up for sale this past August. Rather than pony up the listing price, Newton decided to take his business elsewhere.
Earlier, Newton said the Whistlestop Mall property was an excellent fit for the theater because it was the space is “half the rent and up to twice the space (from the old location).” Not only that, guests can utilize the strip mall’s 200-space parking lot instead of finding on-street parking in downtown Gloucester.