By Arielle Clay
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - In recent years, east Birmingham has seen business after business close down leaving empty lots and vacant store fronts.
"We've lost century plaza recently, we've lost a lot of small business, and we've lost grocery stores. We've lost pretty much everything that's out there," Birmingham City Council member Kim Rafferty said.
With so many losses for east Birmingham, the city was due for a win. What used to be an empty storefront in Eastwood Festival Centre will soon be a brand new movie theater.
"We're a first run theater we're a little bit different in the aspect of self service drinks. We don't have a box office so you purchase your tickets at the concession stand and we are very customer oriented," owner, Marty Felts said.
The Edge Theater is under construction now. Felts plans to open at the end of August with 12 screens. Three of those will be 3-D and one will be dedicated to art films. With the new theater comes 80 new jobs. Felts says it will attract up to 300,000 customers a year. It's a big boost Rafferty says the struggling center and entire area could really use.
"This area is setting on the precipice of panic so to speak and their hoping the retail will come back," Rafferty said.
Rafferty hopes the traffic the theater attracts will encourage other businesses to open their doors nearby. Leasing agent Hugo Isom already has an idea of what those businesses could be.
"The logical tenants to go next to a theater are restaurants because people tend to want to eat when they go to a movie so it's great for the restaurant business ice cream shops etc.," Isom said.
Rafferty says with just a few other theaters within the city limits it's a great new venture for people living in Birmingham.
"It's a filler for the community. Instead of families having to get up and go and leave the city to do something together they can actually go around the corner and stay in their own neighborhood," Rafferty said.
The Edge is holding a job fair on August 14. It starts at 9 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. People can walk-in and apply. Felts says it's likely that most of their 80 employees will be hired that day.
For more information call (205) 595-8900.
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