Attendance sparse, but reaction overwhelmingly positive at STANDEES neighborhood meeting

A rendering of the proposed exterior renovations to the Village Shops to create the first-ever STANDEES restaurant/theatre concept.

“I can hardly wait,” was the prevailing sentiment of the sparse group of neighbors who turned out Tuesday for a briefing on STANDEES, the restaurant and movie theatre concept planned for the Village Shops.

As part of the city’s public participation policy and in preparation for its upcoming planning commission project review, STANDEES invited neighbors who live within 200 feet of the shopping center to a presentation and question session. Only three neighbors responded to the letters and their comments were overwhelmingly positive. All three said they were “excited about” seeing the project slated for the former Macy’s Home Store.

“I like the concept for the shopping center. I think it’s a good fit,” one neighbor commented. The group was complimentary of the overall concept and especially liked the exterior renovations, including the new tower above the entrance and the patio seating along the courtyard side of the restaurant. Putting the patio along the courtyard means it won’t impede pedestrian traffic, they said.

Frank Rash, president and CEO of Dineplex International, the STANDEES developer, said he hopes for construction to begin in December and for the restaurant and three-screen theatre to be open by next May. The proposal goes before the city planning commission on November 6.

Rash said the restaurant and theatre are expecting to draw most of their customer base from within a three-mile radius.

“You have to be a good neighbor when you are in a neighborhood center,” the told the group.

Forty-six percent of the movie audience in the United States is over 40, Rash said, and that is the target audience for the theatres. He also explained the three influences of the  name STANDEES: a reference to patrons who bought standing room only tickets and stood behind a rail in the days of grand move theaters of the early 20th Century; a reference to the large cardboard cutouts in movie lobbies; and a nod to late AMC Entertainment pioneer Stan Durwood who influenced the principals in STANDEES.