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Rex Cinema closes
by Mollee Francisco
Jan 26, 2012 | 5369 views | 33 33 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Rex has reportedly closed its doors for good. According to a post on the theater's Facebook page early Thursday morning, the downtown business closed Wednesday.

The theater is part of the Five Star Cinemas group. The post indicated that gift cards and reward cards would still be honored at their other locations in Chanhassen, Excelsior and Buffalo.

Updated. Five Star Cinemas Owner Glenn Baird sent the Herald this note. We also interviewed Baird, and will include more on the closing in an upcoming story:

"Since acquiring the cinema in Aug of '04 there has been countless group of employees and managers who have tried and gave it their best effort to make it a success. Unfortunately, the Rex has struggled financially ever since.

"It is a great little theater that tried, but just couldn't get over the hump.

"The Rex has created countless memories for many people over the years. With the coming transition to digital cinema in our industry, the ever increasing operating costs, we struggled to find the point where we might realize a turnaround and cannot justify continuing.

"I sincerely appreciate all of our great and loyal guests who kept us going to this point, unfortunately, we were not able to win over enough of them to stay viable.

"Chaska is a great community. Competition for entertainment dollars is tough, I wish the Rex could have succeeded."
Comments
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Anyone Care?
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February 01, 2012
I think all of the Chaska residents care about all the closings and the fact that our little town is turning into a ghost town. The fact of the matter is...we unfortunately don't have a choice in what the City Council decides to do. Several years ago I was told that we shouldn't get our hopes up about anything happening here unless there's a major shake up at City Hall AND that apparently the City is being too particular about who can and can't have businesses here. The City wants smaller businesses to come here to keep our small town feel and won't let any big businesses come into town. How much sense does that make? But then why would a major business want to come to town? There's no parking available anywhere! The REX couldn't handle large crowds of people because there's no where to park. Why can't we get a Payless Shoe Store, an Olive Garden Restaurant or some big names in town? Because the City doesn't want them...that's why. But then why would any big names come when we don't have anything to offer downtown businesses? It's really a shame!
Shenanigans
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January 30, 2012
Chaska "leaders" are shady at best...look at the deal they are doing on the Building Center property. Tax $$ right into the pockets of their life long friends.
Hopeful resident
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January 29, 2012
Hi! Been reading the posts. I too, am very concerned about Chaska! What can we do to save our town? So many of our favorite places are gone! Is there any way to promote our biggest asset....the river? Isn't Chaska called River City? Seems like we should have the same small town charm as some of the other river cities. We have soooo much going for us...let's not lose any more! This should be a destination town.
Cathy D.
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January 28, 2012
I would like to say that Cy's Bar did not tear down anything on the corner of 41 and old 212. Talking with several people in the Chaska area, they didn't know that Cy's was even around anymore. Well, Cy's is still in business and they moved 300 feet to the Chaska Mill Building 5 years ago, Feb. 1st. It is a bar and grill now, serving food, daily lunch specials, and serving breakfast on the weekends!! The prior owner of the building where Cy's was, Mr. Chad Wick, developed that whole corner, adding the Snyder Building, remodeling the Old Cy's building, inside and out, and added a small space to rent on the bar and then it was reopened as Kelly's Bar.
Steve S
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January 28, 2012
This is water under the bridge given their closing but my wife and I once showed up at Chaska Cinema for a weekend matinee several months ago and there was no employee to be found anywhere. No one to pay for tickets and no one selling concessions...we waited several minutes and poked around the theater trying to find someone and when there was still no sign of life we left. Never went back after that.
Sharon and Bob
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January 27, 2012
So sorry about the Chaska Cinema - we just saw Warhorse last week and we were the only ones at the 4:15 showing. We are new to Chaska(1 year)and have been to the theater 4 times. It was always clean and at least 3 to 4 dollars cheaper than the Eden Prairie theaters. That last comment in itself should have had people flocking to it. We love Chaska and sure hope that the downtown can turnaround. We moved here after living in Lakeville for over 40 years and saw the old downtown fade but now the city is also attempting to rejuvenate Historic Downtown Lakeville. Good Luck Lakeville and Chaska!

Taylor M
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January 27, 2012
Lets put the blame where it belongs. Corner of 41 and old 212. Cy's bar tore down to make room for a Kelly's, Snyder Drugstore and the Farm and Garden plot. Results Kelly's closed. Snyder closed. While they were open there was never parking space for the bar and the drugstore. Then the city wanted to shove the Farm and Garden into the already tight spot. On the corner north of Snyder. Two business in that location. The gas station and the truck manufacturing facility. The city buys them out to the tune of around or over a million dollars. That was around two years ago or more. Effectively taking two business off the tax roles. No business to replace what was lost. East of this location a shut down gas station. Why hasn't the owner been told to take the building down and the area cleaned up. I am sure there was underground leakage. The administration is to blame for trying to shove business into a location to small. And there to blame for buying out businesses with no plans of any substance to replace them.
The Infidel
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January 27, 2012
Spot on Taylor...
Mollee_Francisco
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January 27, 2012
Taylor - A couple notes on your comments from someone who has covered all of this for the last seven-plus years: Snyder's closed because they were acquired by Walgreen's - the city had nothing to do with that closure.

There was a time when Chaska Farm & Garden was slated to move onto the Mill House Gallery property, but that plan never came to fruition and as business and traffic continued to decline, owner Tom Hayden decided to get out of the business all together. When I interviewed him as he was getting ready to close, he did not hold a grudge against the city whatsoever. In fact, he was quite complimentary of the help they had offered to try and find him a new home to keep him downtown.

The gas station north of Walgreen's is in foreclosure so there is little leverage the city has to get anything done there. They can only really highlight the property to developers that call into City Hall looking for an abandoned gas station to call their own.
anonymous
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January 27, 2012
In reference to Molly's comments. Taylor did not imply that the city had anything to do with the closing of Snyder's. He mentioned a fact that the space was to small for the 3 businesses planned for that location. And that was the cities fault
Carver Resident
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January 27, 2012
I beleive there are two issues within the story. First, nobody other than Carver, Chaska, Chanhassen maybe Victoria residents are going to go the the REX to see a movie. I'm sure the business model for a movie theatre requires significant attendance numbers to drive profits. I went to MI: Ghost Protocol on opening weekend and there were 5 people in the theatre. The only way to compete with the MEGA movie theatres is to have a niche/uniqueness to draw people looking for something other than the MALL/Mega Theatre. The REX did not. Second, Downtown Chaska is becoming isolated due to the new traffic patterns. Very few people travel on the old 212 anymore. Most people that travel on 41 across the river will evently take the new bypass/rivier crossing once that is built. Downtown Chaska needs to understand this and find business that have the ability to draw local residents and win their business/loyalty. Many of the "experiments" have failed. Best stick to tried and true. Chasers is a great example. Good selection, good service, good prices.
concernedaboutchaska
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January 27, 2012
If the people of Chaska want a thriving downtown business district, THEY need to support it. Just last weekend, my husband and I had dinner at Cuzzy's, stopped by Dolce Vita for a bottle of wine, then went to The Rex for a movie. That's how you support local shops in Chaska!

Sad the Rex is gone, but will still shop my local stores. I appreciate the convenience and service they offer!

Sorry to say, but this has nothing to do with the City Council. Chaska citizens need to step up and shop local.
The Infidel
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January 27, 2012
"Sorry to say, but this has nothing to do with the City Council. Chaska citizens need to step up and shop local."

That's all well and good, but in order to draw consumers, you need to offer them a product or service they want or need. It's easy to sit behind your computer and chastise people for not supporting local businesses, but there are meager offerings in DT Chaska. The businesses also need to be reasonably accessible. Putting the median in on Chestnut / 41 was a disaster to say the least. It eliminated a lot of parking (which is already very poor), and made access to the businesses on the street inconvenient to get to. And the reality is, if it’s not convenient in today’s busy world, it will be overlooked and bypassed.

I disagree with you stating the City Council has nothing to do with this. They have EVERYTHING to do with this. They need to offer incentives to prospective businesses to build and or locate here. They forced out 3 businesses via Eminent Domain on the intersection of 41 & 61. Why? For what? I see no development there. If I were a business owner, I’d be hesitant to move to DT Chaska. Will the same thing happen to my business if someone on the council decides they have a better idea for the parcel and acts on a whim? And on top of that, to see NOTHING happening by way of development of those parcels is reprehensible to say the least!

brickcity
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January 27, 2012
Infidel -- MnDOT is responsible for the loss of parking on MN-41. The city, in their defense, wants to put parking back on 41 but they don't control that because it's a state highway.

Also, state law regarding eminent domain was changed following the Ohnsorg transaction. The city wouldn't be able to do that deal today.
The Infidel
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January 27, 2012
Brickcity,

You are correct on both points. But, did the city pushed back on the State regarding the median? Did the city present the detrimental effects the median would have on the downtown district, and if they did present opposition to it, how hard did they really push?

I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do recall hearing how beautiful and wonderful it was going to be when it was completed. I do know a couple of the construction workers that worked on the project. Even they said it was one of the most boneheaded ideas they’d ever seen. I think there is more to the plan than you or I will ever know.

As for the Eminent Domain law change; the point I was trying to make was that the knee jerk, shoot from the hip governing that seems to be common in Chaska is not inviting to new businesses. And it cost us revenue from 3 businesses that have yet to be replaced.

They didn’t have a solid plan when they exercised their right of Eminent Domain.

brickcity
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January 27, 2012
Infidel -- Completely agree about the lack of plan before using eminent domain. I don't know, though, if the city can otherwise be criticized for shoot-from-the-hip governance. They've been finalizing the downtown master plan for 11 months, and it doesn't look materially different than what they presented at the open house last February. Not sure why it's taken this long to get to City Council Approval on it.
Mollee_Francisco
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January 27, 2012
The Infidel - The median on 41 was constructed long after MnDOT eliminated parking on the east side of the road. In order to get a traffic light at Second Street (which you may remember a number of residents lobbied actively for in order to create a safe crossing for pedestrians), the city had to agree to the median so that traffic could only turn left at the signals. The city has long angled for a more pedestrian friendly downtown. However, it is difficult to have both that and a MnDOT-controlled state highway running through the middle of it.

You say that the city needs to offer incentives - what kind of incentives? Can you be more specific?
JoshS875
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January 27, 2012
Much as I'd like to turn this into a negative comment about the city's plan for downtown, I think honestly that this has more to do with simple economic reality in the movie theater industry. The trend for decades has been toward larger theaters, often tied to other developments - the Eden Prairie mall and theater being an example of this. Smaller movie theaters struggle to get by. Har-Mar, the old downtown Wayzata theater, and many others like that have suffered a similar fate. The few that succeed usually have a well-defined niche, like Uptown. I'm not sure there's much that either the city council or the theater owners could have done in this specific instance.

I do believe there are implications of this for the redevelopment plan, even if the development plan is not responsible for this outcome. It definitely is not an optimistic sign for the future, and may provide further evidence to support the belief (which I hold) that the idea of achieving a revitalized Excelsior-like downtown is unrealistic and our goals need to be much more modest.
TR123
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January 27, 2012
I agree w/Josh he said it perfect!!! I hope Shakopee stays around.....I dont want to always travel to "the mall" to just see a movie it can be terribly congested...I also think the Chaska theatre was too small I'm an avid movie goer and found myself hitting Shakopee for anything new that came out, more theatre space, it's all really too bad...I hope a theatre can be brought back in Chaska soon...
Dave Betlock
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January 26, 2012
Eight years ago my wife and I left Plymouth,Mn. after 37 years. We choose Chaska because of a desire for a small town. However little did we know then, that we were about to live in a Ghost Town. I don't blame city hall for this. But it seems simple enough to repair the damage (retail closings) by providing safe and adequate parking for would be shoppers. Main street is just too dangerous for shoppers to park.
upthehill
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January 26, 2012
E --

I was with you until your last sentence. You list off all the vacant commercial space downtown, then go on to "dis" the "vanity antique stores" as tying up rental space. Huh? Aren't they businesses too? You don't think they pay rent? Don't these "independent" businesses draw people downtown too? Sort of a nasty comment...lighten up!

Blame game
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January 26, 2012
Although some businesses have not been able to survive in a down economy locally (REX, Chaska F&G,Embers) and nationally (Sears, Circuit City, Snyders) It's easy to say Chaska is suffering. However, I think it fair to look at what HAS done well in the same time frame: Tommy's, Dunn Bros, Linda's Cellar (expanded!), Cuzzy's and of all things Synergy - a luxury by all means. Lets not forget the big box retailers that have also sustained and thrived in our community.

It's fun to blame the government I suppose. If it is their responsibility to drive the private industry I guess you also need to give them the kudos for all of the businesses that have started, survived and appear to be thriving.

Kudos to Chaska!

(Not a city employee!)
Peter L
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January 26, 2012
Reach out to another good and I say good KFC or Taco and or Fish shoppe. This town sucks big time for anywhere to eat. Showing up 5 days a week at City Hall dreaming about what the they plan on doing isn't working.
anonymous
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January 26, 2012
Article in the Chaska Today. (Downtown master plan nears completion) Why spend the money. Either your plan is faulty or you don't follow it. I am sick of hearing Mayor after Mayor tout Chaska as the best small town in America. I agree with most of the other comments on this page. No good restaurants in downtown Chaska. If I want to shop for groceries I go to EP or Shakopee. Something has to change and it starts at City Hall.
Mark_Olson
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January 26, 2012
Glenn Baird, owner of Five Star Cinemas (which includes the Rex) sent us a statement about the theater closing, which is now included with the story. He also gave us an interview, with a little bit more info on why the Rex closed up shop, which we will include in an upcoming story -- Mark Olson, editor.
E.
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January 26, 2012
So sad. I hope that an independent owner comes in and reopens it. Chaska was a nice small theater, great popcorn, and it was easily accessible. There are so many seniors live in downtown and it was nice to have a movie theater within walking distance of Auburn Manor.

So...Embers gone. Movie theater gone. Chaska Farm & Garden gone. Ohnsorgs Truck Repair gone. Chaska Building Center gone. The city council will probably put barbed wire around the gazebo next. What exactly is the downtown business development plan? Drive everything out except those vanity antique stores by the river that are open what... 2 days a month and tie-up rental space? Super.

Aloma
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January 26, 2012
Time to move to Carver
Perry K
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January 26, 2012
You drive into this town and at the major intersection nothing but closed buildings from the gas station to the bar and Snyder, and now the theater. Driving east you have a closed KFC and the building center. You drive though town and no restaurants . You have a grocery store that doesn't offer fresh meat or sea food. But, there are plenty of cheap shurfine products. I don't know what it is going to take to get some business in downtown. But, first a top down shake up at city hall is needed
greg johnson
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January 26, 2012
chaska city needs to look at what they are doing. so many vacant buildings and it sure doesn't bring in new owners. no traffic. the city is real hard to deal with. once they don't like you they will go after you. seems like a few businesses will be around for ever. i know the city has their hands in a few that they wont close down. they even put money into the mix building. any one know that? amazing how it gets good review to live but businesses don't survive unless you know someone on the city counsel.
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