by Terry Rogers
Arthur Helmick, who is building a new theater in the old Walmart/Sitel building in Milford, says that progress is continuing “slowly but steadily.” Helmick explained that the demolition part of the project is over and that steel work should begin in the next few months.
“It took some time to determine what part of the building we wanted to demolish,” Helmick said. “We even wondered if we would need to demolish any parts of the building or could we work with what was there. As it turned out, we could not and getting everything lined up to demolish what we did need to remove has taken time.”
Helmick has a strong history of upgrading movie theaters as well as turning buildings who had previous uses into state-of-the-art theaters. In the past, he has remodeled the Westown Theater in Middletown as well as the Main Street Theater in Newark. The new theater in Milford will have nine screens as well as one large-format screen. There will be recliner seating and a cafeteria-style food area. Helmick plans to serve beer and wine at the theater with limits on how many alcoholic beverages each moviegoer can purchase.
“This is a huge undertaking,” Helmick said. “We have submitted plans to the City and they are currently undergoing review. There are still some inspections that need to be done before the plans are approved and all of that takes time. Everyone in construction right now is so busy, it is sometimes hard to pin the companies down.”
Helmick also purchased the Wendy’s property in front of the proposed theater. At this time, he has no plans for the land but he felt the building, which has since been demolished, was an eyesore.
“It had been for sale for a long time and it seemed as if no one wanted it,” Helmick said. “I am not sure what happened there but I heard they started to remodel for a new Wendy’s and then something happened that they just scrapped the plan. When I went to the City to get a demolition permit after I bought it, they told me there was already one filed for the property so we just had it taken down during the demolition phase for the theater. It was more of a clean-up thing than anything else.”
Helmick placed a sign on Dupont Highway so that residents and visitors would see that the theater is definitely coming. He understands why people would be concerned when they don’t see any movement on the property for a few days.
“Whenever there are lulls in construction, you wonder if someone went bankrupt or there is a major problem somewhere,” Helmick said. “I can assure the theater is coming. Hollywood has been notified, the place where our movies come from, and they are looking forward to our opening. Although we have had a few delays, we are looking forward to our opening in Milford.”
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