Since closing a little more than six years ago, Cinemark’s 10-screen Tinseltown USA—arguably Siegen Lane Marketplace’s most prominent landmark due to its high visibility from Interstate 10—remains vacant and with little hope of ever being revived, according to local real estate experts.
“That building is what’s known in the industry as a single-purpose building,” says Mark Hebert of Kurz & Hebert Commercial Real Estate. “You can’t make it retail. With the stadium seating, there’s nothing you can do but implode the building.”
Opening in 1996 as Baton Rouge’s first movie theater with stadium seating, Tinseltown closed at the end of 2007 after developer Tommy Spinosa made a deal with Cinemark to pay the remainder of Tinseltown’s long-term ground lease at Siegen Marketplace if Cinemark opened a new theater in Perkins Rowe.
While Cinemark ended up in litigation with Spinosa relating to Perkins Rowe, the blighted Tinseltown remained in the hands of Olshan Properties (formerly Mall Properties, Inc.), which owns Siegen Marketplace. Cinemark may still be paying the lease on the property, Hebert says, but a spokesperson for Olshan could not disclose whether or not that is the case. Cinemark did not return calls or emails for comment.
Reached for comment via email, Olshan COO Michael Makinen says there are no immediate plans for the Tinseltown site, adding Siegen Lane Marketplace continues to thrive regardless of the long-vacant theater.
“Over the past three years, we have invested a considerable amount into the Siegen Lane property, including the introduction of ten new merchants comprising approximately 164,000 square feet,” Makinen says. “We are also pleased to welcome Cost Plus World Market, our newest tenant, currently under construction and expected to open for business in early 2014.”
If Baton Rouge’s other abandoned theaters are any indication, Tinseltown ultimately faces either demolition or further decay. The former United Artists Siegen Village 10 movie theater was demolished in 2010 to make way for the Safety Council of the Louisiana Capital Area, and the Broadmoor Theater’s decay is about a decade ahead of Tinseltown’s.
Aside from the huge startup costs for anyone interested in occupying the former theater, the terms for leasing the Siegen Lane Marketplace property also make it especially unattractive for potential tenants, Hebert says.
“In this day and age, to get financing for a project, it’s very hard to ground lease,” he says. “What you’re doing is you’re renting the ground and you’re telling the landlord that you’re going to build your own building and pay him a lease. You essentially build the building that one day you’re going to give to the landlord.”
And despite Tinseltown’s prominent location off I-10, Hebert says some patrons still think of the Siegen Lane Marketplace area as being difficult to access.
“Probably the hardest thing about that site is that it’s perceived as being hard to get in and out of,” he says. “It really is kind of a super regional power center because you have Lowes, Walmart, Sam’s, hotels … once you’re in the site it’s not that hard. But getting in and out onto Siegen is a problem.”