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Year in Review: Work continues on the New Grand Theater

Initial estimates put the theater's opening in April 2020. Now, just weeks away from 2022, here's where things stand with Worthington's new movie theater.

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The outside of the New Grand Movie Theater.

WORTHINGTON — In Nov. 2020, one Globe reporter wrote “A full 15 months after the groundbreaking, Worthington's new movie theater has reached the final phase of construction.” Over a year later, Worthington’s residents are still anxiously awaiting the New Grand Theater’s opening after numerous delays and pushbacks.

First approved by Worthington’s City Council in July 2019, members involved with the project hoped that it would be the last summer Worthington did not have movies playing in town, with work on the theater projected to be completed by mid-April 2020.

Entertainment Spec site
Site of Worthington's future movie theater

However, the theater has seen repeated delays to its completion and has subsequently had to push back the opening numerous times. In 2021, The Globe reported on updates for the theater after discussions by the City Council.

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In May of this year , a representative for the theater estimated that they could open the doors as soon as late June or early July. Again in August, investor Kevin Donovan told the council that because of supply issues , the theater was now looking at November for its opening.

Now, just weeks away from 2022, work on the theater is still ongoing — but hopefully nearing its completion.

“It's the final push here,” said Todd Frager, theater operator, last week.

Movie theater construction progress
Construction crews have begun framing Worthington's new entertainment spec building. The complex will include a movie theater, the New Grand Theater, which is slated for opening May 20. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

Frager stated that over the next few weeks, installation of the theater chairs will be completed, and following that screens will go up, aisle lighting will be installed and work on the speakers and projectors will hopefully be completed. As of right now, almost everything the theater needs to complete the five auditoriums is on site.

“Every week that goes by is a positive that we didn't have something go wrong,” Frager said.

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Worthington Public Works Director Todd Wietzema shows one of the two large theaters in the new five-theater complex Friday morning. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

The theater will have five auditoriums in total, two of which will hold 100 seats, and three with seating for 50. Once work is completed there, workers will be able to lay carpeting in the lobby, which Frager said will be one of the last things to be finished before the theater opens.

“Just about everything that we've ordered, and everything that we've installed, we've had issues with,” Frager said, when asked about the delays the theater has seen. “We've either been limited on choices, or parts, or shipping. It’s been interesting and it’s been challenging … but I’m pleased with the progress.”

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Worthington's New Grand Theater stands near the intersection of North Grand Avenue and Darling Drive. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

As far as when the theater will open for business, Frager said they’ll have a better idea after the holidays but that a decision will be made in the near future, and they’re “definitely looking at dates.”

“We're very excited to get open,” Frager assured. “And we're gonna do it as soon as we can.”

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112120 N DG Movie Theater construction update S2.jpg
Worthington Public Works Director Todd Wietzema shows one of the three smaller theaters in the new five-theater complex Friday morning. Three theaters in the facility will each have capacities of 50 persons; the other two will seat 100 people per room. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

Movie theater construction progress
Construction crews have begun framing Worthington's new entertainment spec building. The complex will include a movie theater, the New Grand Theater, which is slated for opening May 20. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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