A new craft-beer-selling, indie-film-screening theater is coming to town.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema on Tuesday announced its plans to open an 11-screen theater, bar and restaurant in the Longview Shopping Center at the corner of New Bern Avenue and King Charles Road in east Raleigh.
Alamo is known for its theater recliners and “zero tolerance policy” for moviegoers who disrupt films with talking or texting. Its theaters show new releases, indie, foreign and classic films on 35mm projectors, according to the company.
In Raleigh, the theaters will have 660 seats and the beer hall will have 36 local beers on tap. It hopes to open by the end of the year.
The Austin, Texas-based company, which has 27 locations across the United States, searched for a site in Raleigh for five years before settling on Longview, founder Tim League said.
“We love Raleigh,” he said. “We have family here and have spent a lot of time in North Carolina.”
Some Raleigh leaders hope the project will help revive the stretch of New Bern Avenue, which is a gateway into downtown. Downtown’s boom of new restaurants and retail space has not extended into east Raleigh.
City Council member Corey Branch, who represents east Raleigh, said the area hasn’t had much commercial growth since Walmart opened years ago at the corner of New Bern and New Hope Road.
The Longview Shopping Center has struggled to rebound since Winn-Dixie left roughly 20 years ago, Branch said.
“It’s been blighted and going down ever since,” he said. “This will create jobs for those in the community, bring some positive light to the overall area amid all the changes that have taken place, and I think can be a catalyst.”
Current tenants at the center include Family Dollar and AutoZone. It’s unclear whether they will be affected by Almo’s plans.
Branch said the shopping center will also benefit from new sidewalks along New Bern, which the city plans to build from Tarboro Street to Sunnybrook Road by spring 2019.
The Wake Transit Plan, which calls for more buses along the road, will also help the shopping center, said Dan Douglas, director of the New Bern Avenue Corridor Alliance.
“Their confidence in the future of the New Bern Corridor sends a strong signal to the market,” Douglas said in a news release from Alamo. “The coming of new transit, new bike paths, new sidewalks and better connections to the greenway system will all help to make Alamo Drafthouse and the corridor succeed together.”
League said the company is expanding to North Carolina despite having qualms about House Bill 2, the law enacted last year that forbade local anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people and required everyone in government facilities to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate.
Two months ago, state lawmakers passed a new law that repealed HB2 but restricts anti-discrimination ordinances in cities and counties until 2020.
“Rather than walking away from this community, however, we are committing our support and making our stance very clear,” League said. “We support the unconditional repeal of HB2 and have designed our restroom facilities to be adaptable to a future without binary constraints.”
Alamo Drafthouse plans to support LGBTQ programming, events and fundraisers at the theater, he said.
Alamo will expand the crop of cinemas near downtown Raleigh that includes The Rialto, Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles and Mission Valley Cinema. Alamo is giving away movies for a year to someone who signs up for its free “Victory loyalty” program. For more information about the giveaway and employment opportunities, go to drafthouse.com/raleigh.