Member Spotlight: Phoenix Theatres Rises From the Ashes and Makes History in Grand Rapids
Phoenix Theatres, a Michigan-based cinema company, is putting Grand Rapids on the map.
While adding to their numerous locations sprinkled across the country, the 21-year-old theatre company is glamming up the vacant cinema on the Grand Rapids’ southeast side and turning it into a state-of-the-art theatre unlike any other in West Michigan.
The empty theatre at Woodland Mall on the corner of 28th Street and Beltline was once operated by Celebration Cinema but was vacated during the COVID-19 pandemic and remained empty for over a year. Phoenix acquired the theatre and began renovating the venue in 2021, making slow but definite progress as they transformed the 47,000-square-foot property.
Most of the building had to be gutted due to dust and mold issues, but the opportunity to start fresh offered Phoenix a chance to transform the venue into something greater. The team was able to preserve some of the antique-style fixtures in the building, keeping its vintage charm while freshening up the interior and bringing in first-class equipment and luxury furnishings.
Much of the renovation is an intense process: redoing flooring, seating, screens, sound systems, lighting, and more. The venue is set to hold 14 screens, making it the largest theatre Phoenix has owned to date.
With the opening of this new location, Phoenix Theatres will now have over 50 screens in operation across the country – a huge milestone for the Michigan-owned company.
Four screens at the Woodland location will feature the latest and greatest in sound technology – a Dolby Atmos sound system – which uses precise calibrations and custom sound editing to immerse viewers in a detailed depth of sound. No other theatre in West Michigan holds this technology as of yet.
In addition to the four theatres outfitted with the Dolby system, all fourteen theatres will include 4k digital projection and heated, fully reclining love-seat-style seating.
Upgrades to the concessions area include new ADA accessible counters, refreshments from local and well-known vendors, and a countertop wine dispenser. The entryway lobby will also be home to a comfortable lounge area with a self-playing piano to add to the ambiance.
Brand new signs on the exterior of the building are inspired by the art deco style Chicago theatre, featuring old-fashioned lightbulbs and retro designs. The venue will also line the hallways with art pieces featuring vintage cinema advertisements, old photos, and throwback ticket stubs from historical theatres around Grand Rapids.
During the building’s renovations, the Phoenix team partnered with a number of locally-owned organizations to problem-solve unique challenges along the way and make the venue truly one of a kind. Lighting, metalworking, art vendors, historians, and more worked with the team to move the project forward.
“It’s really a testament to how active the commerce is in Grand Rapids,” remarked Jordan Hohman, Executive in Charge of Project Development for the theatre’s renovation and grand opening. “We prefer working with small businesses and supporting local, which was feasible here, whereas in some cities we haven’t had that option.”
Cory Jacobson, the company’s owner, noted that the landscape around movie theatres and shopping malls has turned somewhat bleak in recent years, but the lively shopping and entertainment scene in Grand Rapids has great potential. The Woodland Mall has has incorporated upwards of 20 new retailers since 2017 and continues to bring in new businesses, making it an excellent venue for the new addition.
The new Phoenix Theatres location is set to host a grand opening in early April of 2022 and is setting high expectations with cocktail bars, ticket giveaways, movie showings, and more.