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San Gabriel Valley

Plan for 30-Screen Movie Complex OKd

November 07, 1996

Covina's bridge to the 21st century will be cinematic. And really, really big.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the City Council gave final approval to AMC theaters, which plans to build a 30-screen movie theater where a vacant Sears department store now stands. The movie mansion is expected to provide at least $150,000 in property taxes each year and create more than 200 jobs, said Mayor Linda Sarver.

"This is a milestone, really," Sarver said, remarking that the only movie house in Covina is a small three-screen theater. "For Covina to get a 30-plex theater is a big project."

The theater will join a smattering of new stores, such as Toys R Us, U-Haul and a Wal-Mart--all of which the council hopes will rejuvenate the Azusa corridor.

Known as the "value corridor" because of its collection of discount stores, the stretch of Azusa Avenue from Arrow Highway to Badillo Street could receive a movie-inspired make-over. Like many fledgling suburban shopping districts, the value corridor may use this one giant national franchise to attract several the other giant franchises, said Ken Herron, Covina's economic development director.

"We may be able to attract national chain restaurants and national chain bookstores and national chain music stores," Herron said. "We've even had inquiries from a virtual reality business."

Anticipating an onslaught of mega-store openings in Covina, Sarver said the Azusa corridor could become a "hot ticket."

In addition to luring outside businesses, the movie theater's T-shirt vendors and concession stands will also provide revenues for the city in sales tax.

Construction for the $15-million building is scheduled to begin in March, and the theater is expected to open next year, Herron said.

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