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Work on Theater Complex to Resume

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After a lengthy delay, construction of a downtown movie theater and shopping complex is set to resume next week, with a November opening expected, officials said Friday.

Originally scheduled to open this summer, the 10-screen multiplex project came to a halt earlier this year, pushing back the construction schedule by several months. Officials have blamed heavy rain and complicated grading for the delay.

Seen as the cornerstone of downtown revitalization, the $6.5-million theater project has been eagerly awaited by business owners, who hope the new development steers customers to their stores. The delay has worried many of them.

But theater developer Victor K. Georgino said construction will resume next week, barring any unforeseen rain or wind.

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“We knew we had an aggressive construction schedule, and weather might mess it up,” said Georgino, whose contract with the city requires him to finish the project by Dec. 31.

The developer added that Moorefield Construction of Los Angeles will finish the project. He declined to explain why the initial contractor, Los Angeles-based Turner Construction, has been dismissed. The company could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, city officials say they will hold weekly progress meetings with the builders and Century Theatres to make sure the project stays on track.

They touted Moorefield, which built the Victoria Village shopping center off Ralston Avenue in the early 1980s, as a leading firm that specializes in movie theaters and built a 21-screen multiplex in Chatsworth.

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“There were people who were concerned that, ‘Oh my god, the theater’s not going to be built,” Ventura Mayor Jim Friedman said. " . . . As it turns out, we get a company that specializes [in theater construction].”

Aside from the 10 screens, the complex is to include a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream store, a coffee and fudge store, a leather shop and several other businesses.

“If the tenants are able to open the same time [as the theater], that’s terrific,” Georgino said."If not, it will be shortly thereafter.”


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