Developers eye Black Rock movie theater site for apartments
Developers are hoping to turn the Showcase Cinemas in Black Rock into a trove of new apartments.
Bridgeport’s Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved a zone change for a site across the street from the theater on 286 Canfield Ave. which Norwalk-based Spinnaker Real Estate and Eastpointe LLC of Fairfield want to turn into hundreds of apartments.
“It really makes a lot of sense,” said Frank Caico, Director of Development for Spinnaker. “We’re really excited about the possibilities.”
It’s still early in the process, but the zone changes laid the foundation for developers to move forward with drawing up their site plans, they said.
Developers wanted to match zoning of the site — which is a parking lot at 872 Brewster St. — with the theater ,which is designated as a Residential R-CC Zone.
The new designation allows a larger number of units to be built on the land, but adds several regulations, according to Fairfield land use attorney Ray Rizio, who represented Spinnaker and Eastpointe during the April planning and zoning meeting.
“We understand the number of units that we can put there. Now we have to go from conceptual to an actual design,” Rizio said, adding that the site could accommodate up to 300 units.
Rizio said developers are hoping to return with a site proposal in coming months.
Spinnaker and Eastpointe are in the process of acquiring the properties, Rizio said, adding developers would close and demolish the building but preserve the 500-space parking garage that serves the theater.
Neighborhood leaders have said they are in favor of the project and what it could mean for the property’s future.
“The reality is that the movie theater industry is changing and the likelihood of that becoming vacant is pretty high, I would think, and it would be nice to have something productive go into there,” said Scott Burns, president of the Black Rock NRZ.
The theater had originally been put up for sale in 2014. At the time, a spokesperson for the Showcase’s parent company National Amusements said there were too many theaters in that local market.
The company owns Fairfield Cinemas at Bullard Square around the block from Showcase on the Fairfield line. The theater has remained open since then, as operators waited for its sale, according to past reports.
The apartments would add to Spinnaker’s holdings in the Park City. The company already owns and manages the HSW Security Building in downtown Bridgeport, which features 70 units and 10,000 square feet of ground level retail space.
Spinnaker also has holdings in South Norwalk and Stamford.
The project would be Eastpointe’s first in Bridgeport. The developers own more than 200 condominiums between Shelton and Newtown.