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New cinema, facelift coming to Apple Blossom Mall

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This artist’s rendering depicts the proposed new food court entrance to the Apple Blossom Mall in Winchester. Courtesy image

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This image shows the Apple Blossom Mall site plan. Courtesy image

By Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

Apple Blossom Mall is getting its first facelift since it opened 30 years ago.

Along with the aesthetic changes to the mall, a completely new 12-screen cinema featuring a "BIGD" auditorium will be built.

The six-screen movie theater attached to the mall will be demolished "pretty soon" to make way for construction of the new one, Carmike Cinema Inc. eastern divisional manager Thomas Bridgman said following a press conference at the mall Wednesday morning.

During the press conference, Bridgman described the BIGD auditorium as "absolutely an amazing experience to watch a movie."

"We provide dynamic sound, dimensional sight and deluxe seating," Bridgman said.

The auditorium will feature a screen stretching more than 60 feet wide and three stories tall, 7.1 surround sound, a "cutting-edge Christie Brilliant 3D flash projector," and leather seats arranged stadium style, according to a news release from Carmike.

Bridgman explained that 7.1 surround sound splits the listening channels, with three behind the screen and four surrounding channels. This allows the sound to actually travel circularly around patrons. Carmike can do 11.1 sound, which would have two channels above movie-goers, say, to convey the sense of a helicopter flying overhead, but Hollywood doesn't make movies that way yet, according to Bridgman.

He also said tickets and concessions will be sold from the same stand, and there will be free popcorn and drink refills. Bridgman said the theater lobby will have a 125-flavor Coca-Cola machine.

The theater is expected to be completed by next spring.

However, the mall's makeover won't take nearly as long.

It will include new ceilings, floors, lighting, doors and signs, a renovated food court and a large play zone for small children, architect Nicholas A. Middleton, partner and CEO of CUBE 3 Studio LLC said. He said he expected the renovation to be complete by mid-November, in time for the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.

"Today's a very exciting day," Middleton told the assembled group, which included city politicians, administrators, Sheriff Lenny Milholland and business representatives. "This is a mall that hasn't been renovated in over 30 years. We've been working on these plans for the last six months."

The current entrance to the food court will become the mall's primary entrance, and the food court will be expanded and will include outside seating and a new plaza to the movie theater, he said.

"As you look around here today, you have dark floors, you have some out-of-date lighting," Middleton noted. "Everything will get a nice contemporary look."

The mall will get new tile flooring, the food court's mirrored ceiling will be replaced with a wing-style ceiling, and there will be new restrooms -- including two family bathrooms -- in the food court, he said.

There will be carpeted areas throughout the mall with soft seating, according to Middleton, and a new enclosed play area for little ones. The play area will be in the Belk's wing of the store and will be 1,200 square feet, Larry Nelson, Apple Blossom Mall's marketing and business development director, said after the press conference.

Winchester Mayor Elizabeth Minor pronounced the mall's planned upgrade as "long, long over-due."

"This is a great day for Apple Blossom Mall and our community," she said.

It's also one that was expected to have occurred several years earlier.

Maryland-based RC Theatres signed a lease with the mall four years ago. It had planned a free-standing 16-screen movie theater near the Belk anchor store. It was to be part of a "lifestyle redevelopment" of the mall, which was also going to include upgraded interiors and new restaurants and stores.

The poor economy put those plans on hold, according to a winter 2010 email from Les Morris, public relations director for Simon Property Group, which owns the mall.

Nelson declined to discuss the prior renovation plans Wednesday afternoon.

Randy Collins, CEO and president of the Top of Virginia Regional Chamber, urged area residents to support the mall.

"The importance of retail in any community is paramount to the economy," he said. "The mall, kind of like the hospital, is taken for granted.

"[Apple Blossom Mall provides] a lot of jobs, [pays] a lot of taxes, and it's a place people can come and get done what they need to get done. These types of projects are not inexpensive."

There are likely some people in the community who've never been to the mall, Collins said.

"Now would be the time to come to Apple Blossom," he said.

The mall's original manager when it opened in October 1982 also attended the press conference. George Ferguson said he managed the mall for nearly seven years.

"[The plans are] very exciting because it's way over-due," he said after the conference. "It had been talked about many times over the years. I'm just so happy it's finally come to fruition. Can hardly wait for it to happen."

Terrell Mayton, marketing director for Carmike, said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon there are 13 Carmike theaters across the country featuring a BIGD auditorium.

"The whole theater will be state-of-the-art," he said of the planned Apple Blossom 12. "Our BIGD is considered in the industry to be the leading edge of technology. It looks like high-definition television on steroids."

The auditorium featuring the BIGD will have light output of 30,000 lumens and wide-backed seats. The other screens will also be large, with 5.1 surround sound and digital projectors, Mayton said.


This is long overdue. I am so glad to hear that the renovations are being done.

Makes me wanna cry....

About freakin' time!!! Too late for my now 8 year-old daughter, but my son can at least enjoy a decent play area and that alone will get us going to the mall more often....

That dank, disgusting-carpeted cesspool with the plastic yard playsets they had was cheesy, gross and it kept us away because we didn't want to be stuck there while the kids played....

This is welcome news!!!

Hope the prices dont go up. We go to Delco or rent because the movies and food cost waaaay too much at the mall theaters. Esp when you have to sit in a ragged worn out chair. Delco isnt beautiful but we both get a movie, popcorn and drink for the price of just ONE TICKETAt the mall. Thank u, Delco, for giving us an alternative.

"judyboody"....as a result of the changes, unfortunately the prices WILL go up at least as far as getting something to eat and seeing a movie at the mall is concerned. Look at the Hagerstown Valley Mall for example. Once that mall had received it's facelift a decade ago, well it wasn't hard to notice it.

Wonder if JC Penney & Sears will be updated as well ?? I know that Belk was some time ago. With Sears this should be interesting since that chain is closing stores across the country right now just like they did in Martinsburg recently.

Hopefully they will contract with Winchester Police for security, I'm tired of dealing with roving bands of thuglets and wanna-be gangsters.

It's pretty sad to think that their movie prices could go up anymore. They're already the same price as Alamo. At least at Alamo I can get a decent meal and a refreshing adult beverage...when I have a designated driver, of course.

I too go to Delco..I love it there..prices are good and they have the best popcorn. As for the meals and beverages at Alamo??WAYYYY overpriced. its all for convenience though I guess. Sadly due to having a child and one on the way I will continue to see movies at Delco..Im just glad Apple Blossom Mall CAN offer an alternative to Alamo..nothing against Alamo..the concept is great but Im a family that watches pennies.

Will not matter to me unless they get some new stores of interest with better prospects instead of old dying retail names. Then if they get rid of FPA( Future Prisoners of America) around the new theatre and food court, I may go more often than once a year at Christmas.

Why stop at putting a facelift on the movie theater - the whole mall needs it! Maybe doze and replace the whole thing.

Ummm, they ARE fixing up the mall. R.I.F.

Hey no more pee wee herman's theatre.. great news!

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