Save the Garden Cinema Movie Theater in Downtown Norwalk CT
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The Garden Cinemas is one of the most unique, hallmark attractions in Downtown Norwalk, CT, as well as a cultural tourism destination that regularly attracts moviegoers from cities as far away as New York City, Westchester, and New Haven, as well as from cities and towns throughout Fairfield County.
The fact is that we have one of the last remaining independent movies houses in the entire region, that shows culturally diverse films that you simply can't see anywhere else. People come to see movies here, they dine in our restaurants, they drink in our bars, and yes, they even pay for parking!
Our city planners, Norwalk Redevelopment Agency, Citibank, and its “preferred construction contractor” JHM Group, are meanwhile planning to DEMOLISH the theater to create 100+ parking spaces necessary to complete the condominium development project known as Wall Street Place. Wall Street Place is also referred to as "POKO," named for the original developer of the project.
Instead of tearing down the blighted, decaying mess that is "POKO," that the Wall Street neighborhood has flourished in spite of, over the past two years, they want to tear down our beloved community theater to create a parking lot!
Are we really going to let this happen?
The Wall Street Neighborhood Association which represents residents, businesses, and property of owners of Downtown Norwalk, has asserted that this plan in its present form will damage the core of our historic neighborhood, as well as deeply hurt the morale of a neighborhood that for many is defined by its growing community of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and creative businesses.
We believe rather than demolishing the Garden Cinemas, the city should be allowing investment into the infrastructure of the Downtown Norwalk Arts District, by allowing the Garden Cinema to be operated as a 501c3 non-profit community theater. (Or at least mandating the developer JHM Group to consider options to include the Garden Cinemas in its final construction plan.)
Our vision is for a "New Garden Cinema/Norwalk Film Center," a highly innovative, non-profit, community film center, offering after-school programs, with STEM/STEAM education courses in film production and technology; in addition to screening facilities, meeting rooms, and offices. We want to create Norwalk's own "Tribeca Film Center," right here in the heart of our original and historic downtown.
We see massive potential for collaboration with other businesses in Downtown Norwalk's growing film production community, such as Sono Studio and Factory Underground, as well as with other non-profits such as Wall Street Theater and George Washington Carver Foundation for programming and community events. We see potential to work with Norwalk Community College to offer off-campus instructional facilities to its Film Production Department.
This "New Garden Cinema/Norwalk Film Center" would show student films produced right here in Norwalk, screen new films for the very first time, host local film festivals such as the Short Cuts Festival (Westport), and be a future home to the Wall Street Film Festival coming in 2020. Of course, it would continue to show the kind of films that Garden Cinemas is known for.
We believe that for the JHM Group to go forward with the plan they are trying very hard to push through, the City of Norwalk will be missing out on a MASSIVE opportunity for economic development.
So WHY does the City of Norwalk and JHM Group want to tear it down?
They say that they don't, but that they need the parking spaces in order to get construction on the Wall Street Place back underway. Yet there is a parking lot right next door that would seem to have plenty of spaces available - why are they not pursuing negotiations to make that parking available?
What can you do besides signing this petition?
You can write an email directly to Norwalk Common Council to ask them to intercede and delay this action until all options for negotiation are exhausted!
It's not too late to #SaveTheGardenCinema. Please help by sharing this on Facebook, Twitter, Email, Text, and get the word out to everyone you can. We can do this together!
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