April 1, 2016

Auburn Mall to get movie theater, restaurant in 2017

Under a plan approved by the town, the Auburn Mall would lose its Macy's Home Store but gain a cinema and restaurant. Pictured is the Macy's at the Auburn Mall.

A 10-plus screen movie theater and restaurant have been approved at the Auburn Mall, in a move that city officials see as a boon to the city.

"It's a revitalization effort for the Auburn Mall that seems to be in need of it," said Town Planner Matthew Benoit.

Benoit said that the mall owner's plans for a 51,439-square-foot, 1,270-seat theater with 10 to 12 screens was approved in March. The approval also encompassed a new restaurant. The plans had been in the works since 2015 but were only recently approved by the Planning Board. The plans include an 8,000-square-foot restaurant.

"It's a matter of applying for building permits now," Benoit said explaining the buildings would require the demolition of the Macy's Home Goods store.

The news comes as malls continue to struggle, such as the much-smaller Greendale Mall that is at risk of foreclosure, against the pressures of large outdoor shopping centers such as the Millbury Shoppes at Blackstone Valley that can bring more big-box stores together in one location. Adding additional value through restaurants, movie theaters and unique entertainment options is one way that malls can shore up their position and bring customers back, according to development experts.

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