Movie theater to fight city over Madison Square Mall development

Published: May. 27, 2016 at 7:10 PM CDT|Updated: May. 28, 2016 at 9:41 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The lawyer for a movie theater located next to Madison Square Mall said they will fight the city over the taking of the property.

The news comes less than 24 hours after the Huntsville City Council agreed on a redevelopment deal for Madison Square Mall.

Touchstar Cinema's attorney said the City of Huntsville sent them a letter asking to appraise the property and threatened to condemn it. That same theater received a major facelift just a few months ago.

Huntsville city leaders and RCP Companies have a plan in place to turn Madison Square Mall into a jewel. The redevelopment, named MidCity Huntsville, is a mixed-use-space project that will be built in multiple phases starting next year.

But not everyone is on board.

The attorney for Touchstar Cinema issued a statement about the attempted acquisition of their property:
"Touchstar Cinemas owns and operates the most modern and luxurious movie theater in Alabama.  We are shocked and offended that the City of Huntsville would call the movie theater blighted or that it would even consider building a new road through the middle of it. Touchstar Cinemas intends to vigorously defend its private property rights so it can continue to serve the Huntsville community with the finest movie experience available anywhere in Alabama."
"Anything that changes what's going on there now is a positive," said Greg Johnston, the owner of HobbyTown USA.

Johnston's business sits across the street from the mall. He's hoping there isn't a hold up on construction.

"Anything that is going to bring more people in, it's going to increase our foot traffic, it decreases the money I have to spend on advertising, the bottom line increases for me and as a business owner it's only going to be a positive," said Johnston.

Multiple people at the mall that echoed that same positive outlook on the mall's future.

"I think it'll be great for Huntsville. It'll bring more business over to this side," said one customer. "We've got a lot of retail stores now so I think something different, something that Huntsville hasn't had yet would be great," added another customer.  

According to the City of Huntsville, design on the MidCity project begins immediately but the full build-out won't be complete until at least 2022 pending any delays.

J.C. Penney and Sears are the only anchor stores that remain at Madison Square Mall.

A J.C. Penney spokesperson said they don't comment on real estate activities. A Sears spokesperson said they intend to protect their property rights vigorously.

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