Adapted from a Facebook post
…If you want to save the Madison theater, read on, sign-up and re-post! Thanks
As a Madison mom who loves this town almost as much as I love movies —I’m asking you to join me in preserving the historic Madison movie theater. The developer has informally shown his plans to demolish this beautiful, 93-year-old building and replace it. We need your help to save it.
1) Isn’t it a done deal?
NO. A developer bought the building, and they’re planning to replace the movie theater with a 4-story apartment building and retail space.
BUT the movie theater is part of historic Madison, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. And there are zoning requirements that must be followed. So as of now, it isn’t even clear if the structure the developer is proposing will be permitted to replace the theater.
2) Who determines that?
Since the theater is in Madison’s Historic Civic Commercial District the developer needs to present plans to both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Planning Board. There is an entire process outlined by Ordinance that the developer, the HPC, and the Planning Board must follow.
3) Is it too late to act now? Why didn’t the town do something when it was up for sale?
Like many people in Madison, my family has seen the movie theater change ownership over the years. Along with our friends and neighbors, we were shocked that the new owners wanted to demolish the theater. If we had known of the developers’ intentions, we would have galvanized earlier.
4) Can a movie theater really thrive in a small town?
Small movie theaters are thriving across the United States. Many of these theaters are non-profit and community supported. If you need convincing, here are a few websites of theaters in town’s similar to Madison that will make you aware of the possibilities. Take a look:
Not only are these theaters loved by their communities that came together to keep these important cultural assets, but the foot traffic these theaters create help other local businesses to thrive. Because of their success, there’s a whole industry (www.arthouseconvergence.org) based on small, independent theaters! These theaters have become so popular their convention this year is sold out!
5) What do you have against the new building? I heard it will have a new movie theater inside.
If you look at the actual plans the developer has provided, it’s clear the building won’t work for a real movie theater. The room they propose only has seats for 91 people. The ceiling isn’t high enough which will severely limit screen size. It looks kind of like a small lecture hall.
6) Look, developers bought it. Isn’t it their right to do with it what they want?
Land use in a community is something that affects the entire community. Even individuals who want to renovate or build additions on their homes do not have the right to build whatever they want to build…or do whatever they want to do with their property.
7) How can we stop it? Who are we?
To quote the poet Emily Dickinson, “I’m nobody, who are you?” I’m just a mom who lives in Madison. But the people who love this town are exactly the ones who should decide what kind of town it is. The developer wants to take something away—a special place that has been part of Madison since 1925. I feel helpless. But I’m not helpless — and neither are you.
The Madison Theater is worth saving. If you agree, help us to save it by convincing the Mayor, the Borough Council, the Planning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission to step in. Maybe, just maybe, they will see what we see —that when we preserve the theater, we not only save a piece of the past, but we invest in our community’s future. We promote our town’s personality and the pride we all feel as Madisonians.
8) Okay. You’ve convinced me. What do I do now?
First things first, get on our email list at firstname.lastname@example.org and share and like our Facebook page We’ll keep you updated on our plans and victories and tell you about actions you can take and meetings you can attend to show your support.