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Milwaukee, WI: Renewed Talk of a Downtown Marcus Theater

Posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 4:17 PM

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Back in May 2008, we reported on the possibility of a Marcus Theater being developed in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was going to be part of a development in the Park East corridor, but the project never got off the ground, and Milwaukee continues to be missing a downtown movie theater.

Those prospects are getting renewed life with recent news of a new Park East development project and another story that Marcus is still looking for a downtown location, possibly on Water Street.

Business reporter Tom Daykin for the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee mentioned yesterday that a developer hopes to begin construction on a project that would include a Marcus theater:

A local developer hopes to begin construction this year on a Marcus Corp. theater, and an adjacent office building, in downtown Milwaukee’s Park East area.

The $100 million project would overlook the Milwaukee River, west of N. Water St. and north of E. Knapp St. The 2.6-acre site would be developed by Rainier Properties II LLC, led by Bruce Westling.

Marcus has not committed to the project by signing a contract, but it is interested in a downtown site. This is reinforced by an article in the Milwaukee Business Journal by Rich Kirchen that says that Marcus wants to build a downtown theater, preferably on Water Street:

Marcus Theatres is searching for a site where it can build a theater complex in downtown Milwaukee but hasn’t decided on a location.

The area of downtown most coveted by Marcus Theatres president Bruce Olson is along Water Street, where there already are live entertainment theaters, restaurants and bars.

"It makes a lot of sense because it already is Milwaukee’s entertainment district," Olson said this week.

Milwaukee hasn't had a downtown theater since the Grand Cinemas closed in 1995, but Marcus has been mentioned many times about possible projects. Since they are the dominant chain in the area, this only makes sense, but it is curious that such a dominant force has yet to make a downtown movie theater a reality.

For a city that had some really distinctive movie theaters in its past, it's a shame that one cannot go downtown to see a movie. Here's to hoping that something will come out of these latest possibilities, and that the result is something the city can be proud of!

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