SANTA FE, N.M. — A formal groundbreaking for the latest entry into Santa Fe diverse movie scene – the Violet Crown Cinema in the city-owned downtown Railyard, with 11 screens and small seating capacities in viewing rooms – is set for next week.
The ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday.
Plans have been in the works for a movie theater in the Railyard for years, but a company chosen for the project in 2006 never got beyond digging a huge hole in the ground. Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp., which manages the Railyard, chose Violet Crown over three competitors last year to finally move forward with a new project. In December, the City Council approved a beer and wine license for the theater.
Here is the news release issued by the Railyard’s managers:
The Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation is pleased to announce the formal groundbreaking for the new Violet Crown Cinema on Friday, February 28 at 10:30 a.m. on the construction site between the Flying Star Café and Santa Fe Clay at 1606 Alcaldesa Street.
The selection of Violet Crown of Austin, Texas was the result of a nation-wide search for a cinema concept most appropriate to the site with style and programming best matched to the Railyard’s and the city’s needs. The innovatively designed theater conforms to the Railyard Master Plan Architectural Design Guidelines, imaginatively embracing the Railyard aesthetic.
The 34,000 SF building will contain 11 screens, one with approximately 110 seats and the others with approximately 60 seats each for an approximate total of 710 seats. Three auditoriums will be above ground and eight below grade. A 3200 SF informal cafe and bar with seasonal outdoor seating will be a destination in itself, open to the public whether they are attending a movie or not, for lunch and dinner.
Patrons will also be able to bring food and drinks into the movie auditoriums. The cinema is anticipated to be open for business by early next year.
Programming will include a mix of mainstream and independent films. All seating will be reserved and available for purchase online or at the cinema. Up to four hours of free validated parking will be available in the adjacent underground Railyard parking garage for moviegoers.
Violet Crown, with its history of community engagement, will also seek to participate in local film festivals and work with local schools to provide auditorium space and educational film screenings during weekday morning hours. In addition, the 110-seat theater will be available for meetings and special event use.
Violet Crown Cinemas is a national movie exhibitor owned by Mr. Bill Banowsky. Mr. Banowsky began his career in the film industry in 2001 when he founded Magnolia Pictures, an exhibition and film distribution company based in Austin, Texas and New York City. Magnolia Pictures was sold in 2003. In 2004, Mr. Banowsky became the CEO of Landmark Theatres and served in that capacity until 2007. At Landmark Mr. Banowsky operated over 60 theaters and 220 screens in more than 20 large U.S. markets. In 2008, Mr. Banowsky started Carolina Cinemas, with three theaters and 42 screens in Asheville, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC.
The flagship Violet Crown cinema was built in Austin in 2011 where it presents a mix of first-run commercial and independent films and hosts the annual South by Southwest Film Festival. A second Violet Crown cinema is under development in Charlottesville, Virginia and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2014.
The idea of building a movie theater in the Railyard has been considered for the 50-acre redevelopment project since the city bought the land in 1995. Since 2002, the Santa Fe Railyard Community Corp. has been under contract with the city to implement the Railyard Master Plan and oversee all aspects of its management. The organization continues its role
in the design and construction later this year of the completion of Alcaldesa Street between Flying Star Café and the new cinema building, and the new west side of the Railyard Plaza which will complete the vision of a vital, dynamic hub of activity days, nights and weekends for all the citizens of Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe Railyard Community Corporation (SFRCC), a private non-profit corporation, is responsible for the construction, public use management, and leasing and property management of the newly revitalized Railyard, pursuant to a Lease and Management agreement with the City of Santa Fe.