The story of the former Hornell Cinemas building could end up having a happy sequel.
Mayor Shawn Hogan said the building at 191 Main St. has generated a tremendous amount of interest from at least a dozen parties who are looking to reconvert the vacant structure back into a movie theater. Hogan said he is working with a company that is handling the foreclosure of the building for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
"They're going to be doing an environmental review of the theater and then that would just move us closer to the foreclosure proceeding," Hogan said. "They're going to try to move quickly with this thing and then once they do the official foreclosure, there will be a foreclosure sale at some point, if it gets to that point.
"They're working against time because there have been no taxes paid on this building since 2011, so that means unless they pay all the back taxes, the county will probably put it in the tax sale come July. They're working against time."
Jim Griffin, CEO of the City of Hornell Industrial Development Agency (CHIDA), said the CHIDA is working with Hogan to make sure the city, the CHIDA or both get title to the building.
"We feel it's imperative that you have a movie theater downtown and get a nice one for a change," Griffin said. "We think the building can be fixed up and made into a real attraction for downtown."
Getting title to the building is the biggest holdup in the process of bringing a movie theater back to Hornell, Griffin said.
"The bank that lent the money initially when the building went into foreclosure was taken over by the feds and then there was an SBA (the U.S. Small Business Administration) guarantee on the loan, then SBA paid the guarantee off and the FDIC sold the mortgage to a mortgage broker down on Long Island and they have the mortgage," Griffin said. "They have not foreclosed on the mortgage. The mortgage is still open.
"The former owner isn't paying on it and they haven't gotten around to actually foreclosing, so that's where the holdup is right now. We're trying to urge them to (pay the taxes) because they haven't been paid."
Griffin added that the city could also purchase the building if it goes up for sale for back taxes in July, eight months after owner Chris Croston closed Hornell Cinemas.
Hogan said he received a call from an environmental review company, who will inspect and perform an archeological review on the building.
"They'll want to know how long the building has been there, what was there prior to that building being there, just to make sure there are no environmental issues and that's the first step of the process," said Hogan. "They'll come in and do their report. They're scheduled to be here next week some time."
Page 2 of 2 - The building, Hogan said, is going to need some improvements.
"What the theater has right now, basically, is four walls and a roof because all the interior stuff in there, the old equipment, is virtually useless because everything has gone digital, so whoever gets the building would have to retrofit it to the digital age and that's a big expense, and then they'll probably want to make some improvements to the interior," Hogan said.
Hogan said a lot of the individuals who have contacted him have the "resources and the wherewithal to run a first-rate theater."
"I think the future bodes well for that building once we can get it out of foreclosure," Hogan said.