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9-screen movie house doesn’t make cut at Eastover, but food hall will

At St. Roch in New Orleans, from left: Ray Neilsen, co-investor in the District at Eastover; Breck Hines and Ted Duckworth, co-developers of Eastover, and Will Donaldson, co-owner of St. Roch.

By JACK WEATHERLY

The District at Eastover had for several years touted a nine-screen luxury movie theater featuring as one of its assets in the mixed-use development in north Jackson.

But developers Breck Hines and Ted Duckworth found that the rent was too high for theater operators, Hines said in an interview Monday.

So no theater with reclining chairs, good food and perhaps a bar.

The $12 million theater priced itself out of the 125,000-square-foot development, Hines said.

Put simply, the developers couldn’t find a movie house that could afford the rent at the upscale Eastover, Hines said.

The “higher and better use” of the space would be a multi-story building, he said.

Asked why floors couldn’t be added above the theater, Hines said that the combined use would price the office space out of the local market.

The movie theater industry is somewhat at the mercy of the millenial generation, whose propensity to turn to streaming video has shaken up the movie market.

The mixed-use hallmark is a balance of amenities in one place, but instead of dinner at a movie at Eastover, film-goers will have to drive to Ridgeland, Madison, Flowood or Pearl to catch a movie.

And in 2016, Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest movie house chain, said it was not intending to renew the lease for the Northpark 14 theater in Ridgeland. The theater is still open. Efforts to contact Regal for this article were unsuccessful.

There are no movie houses in Jackson.

As recently as January 2016, Duckworth was touting the nine-screener.

But Marc Holcombe, manager of the The District Lofts apartments, said he was “relieved” that the theater will not be built because of the parking needed for it.

The 261-unit complex has only 74 units available, Holcombe said. Preleasing started March 1.

“We’re moving really fast,” Holcombe said. “We are way ahead, by four or five months.”

But while the District at Eastover won’t be offering the “two-fer” movie house, it has announced a trending concept of a different sort.

A “food hall” will be installed on the ground floor of the BankPlus building.

The 8,000-foot-square space, with indoor and outdoor seating, will open in the spring with a “carefully curated collection of local, boutique restaurant concepts,” the District said in a release.

Eastover Market is being developed with consultation from the St. Roch Market in New Orleans, which Travel and Leisure called “one of the world’s best food halls.”

Will Donaldson, co-owner of St. Roch Market, said in a prepared statement that the food hall is “a rare opportunity to be able to interact directly with a chef.”

Hines said that “when it came to a consulting partner in developing Eastover Market, St. Roch was an obvious choice.”

Including Eastover Market, retail space is 65 percent to 70 percent committed, Hines said.

An unnamed health and wellness center will go in next to the food hall, Hines said.

Four previously named tenants will open next month, Hines said.

Spectacles, an optometrical and eyeglasses store, will move from Highland Village; it will be joined by Orangetheory Fitness; Freshii, which specializes in organic food, including wraps, and Fine & Dandy, which will offer upscale hamburgers, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.

About Jack Weatherly

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