The expansive facility and technology upgrades currently underway at the Edison Park 8 Cinemas are about more than just a better way to go to the movies. They are helping to breathe new life into the city’s centerpiece - the adjacent Edison Park Plaza shopping center.
When completed in December, the 33,000-square-foot, 1,700-seat movie theater will feature Sony 4K digital cinema projection technology on each of its eight screens, in addition to 3D capabilities in four of its auditoriums, making it the most modern movie theater of the three located in the Fort Myers area. More important, the revamped theater will anchor the 65,000-square-foot shopping center as an entertainment hub.
Theater owner Jay Suarez is no stranger to this type of community-minded economic development, with more than 20 years of experience as one of South Florida’s most successful rehab experts.
Known as the “Restoration Maven,” Suarez understands the relationship between his business and the surrounding community, and how one can directly impact the other.
“The renovation of the Edison Park 8 Cinemas is the cornerstone to turning around the entire shopping center,” said Jay Suarez. “We understand that the experience our customers have in the theater has to be first class because we want them to return. We did an exhaustive amount of research into the various technologies that could help us accomplish our customer experience goals and decided that Sony 4K projection technology was far and away the shining star. They are way ahead of everyone else. Our customers deserve the best, which is why we are installing Sony 4K in all eight theaters.”
Miami-based U.S. Century Bank also played a unique role in this project. U.S. Century Bank is the first local community bank to work with Sony to help local theater owners finance the purchase of its digital cinema equipment, while Sony offers theater owners its Virtual Print Fee program, available through March 31, 2013. Both are enabling exhibitors to finance the conversion to digital cinema.
“As a true community bank, U.S. Century Bank is committed to working with our customers in an effort to help them improve their businesses, while at the same time, identify new opportunities to help the community,” said Carlos J. Davila, U.S. Century Bank President and CEO. “By pioneering this project with Sony, we are helping to facilitate financing options for community theater and cinema owners. U.S. Century Bank is not only helping our customer Jay Suarez, but also allowing area residents to enjoy the experience of Sony’s state-of-the-art 4K digital cinema technology.”
When completed in December 2012, the renovation of the entire Edison Park Plaza will cost approximately $2 million, most of which is used on local construction companies, pouring money into the Fort Myers economy.
Suarez, with his RE 2000 Group, has a significant track record of purchasing distressed properties—often in depressed areas—and successfully turning them around – and as a result helping to create a positive impact on the local community and economy. With a background as an investor, general contractor and developer, he assisted in rebuilding St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, was instrumental in turning around apartment complexes in Tallahassee, Fla. helped rejuvenate a shopping center complex in Homestead and renovated an historic office building in downtown Miami.