New movie theater set to open, the first of many downtown development plans

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Malco made final arrangements to open its new downtown movie theater Wednesday, as city leaders touted the new development as a symbol for growth in the area.

Powerhouse Cinema is scheduled for a soft open Thursday, located at the corner of Front Street and G.E. Patterson. The full public opening is Friday.

“It's been great because we’ve seen it develop from the beginning to when it’s about to open. We’re excited," said Rachel Mullen, who owns Primas on South Main Street, a block from the new theater.

Mullen hoped the new theater brings more foot traffic to her store.

Kevin Kane with Memphis Tourism said it would.

“We’re not going to recognize this community in five years," Kane said. “We’re getting a two-for-one — something great for citizens of Memphis and something that’s great for millions of tourists that come to downtown."

While local leaders are celebrating the new movie theater opening, they know there are still a lot more projects in the pipeline like the Central Station redevelopment next door.

“There are a lot of dominoes that are going to fall into place in next couple years," Kane said. "A few billion dollars of investment going into downtown and the perimeter of the downtown area from St. Jude to the convention center."

But behind all of this, there’s an eerie reminder of what Memphis still needs to overcome..

Phil Trenary, the former Chamber of Commerce CEO, was killed right in front of the construction site for the new theater, a cause he championed for the city.

Kane said he’s advancing Trenary’s unfinished work.

“Great cities have great downtowns," Kane said. "All of us involved in economic development in making this whole community a better place. Clearly, downtown is a big piece of that puzzle."

As crews finish beautifying the block, city and business leaders hoped they were laying the groundwork for a lot more.

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