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Fridley clearing way for 3 theater additions

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Fridley Theatres expects early next year to tear down properties it owns to the west of the Carroll theater complex so it can add three more movie screens.

The plan will enhance the Carroll 5, what the long-standing family-owned movie chain says is one of its strongest film-going communities. Fridley has 19 theaters in Iowa and one in Hastings, Nebraska.

The remodeled Carroll theater will have eight screens.

“Carroll has a huge draw from 50 miles out,” said Kim Daniel, Carroll location manager for Fridley since 1998. “This is huge. It’s very exciting.”

Daniel said local contractors would handle the demolition at 111 and 113 W. Fifth St. There is no official timetable for completion of the three additional screens, but Daniel said the theater would remain open during construction.

Under the new plan, the theaters will have larger, heated, reclining lounging chairs, amenities popular in more urban theater locations. Fridley sees this as the future for theaters, Daniel said.

“We think the new theaters should be done first so people can enjoy that first,” she said.

There will be expanded concession offerings, with a selection going beyond traditional soda, candy and popcorn to hot dogs and chicken and potentially pizza and beer. Carroll theater patrons also will be able to obtain tickets online and pick out assigned, reserved seats before heading to the movie theater, Daniel said.

A visible promoter of the theater, Daniel said she’s fielded regular questions about its future for years, as the Fridley expansion plan has been public for some time.

“People still come up to me and ask, ‘When is the remodeling happening? When are the new theaters opening?’ ” Daniel said.

The Carroll 5 last remodeled in 1998.

With the additional screens, the Carroll 8 will be able to show popular movies at more times on more screens, as well as offer a wider reach into the international movie inventory.

“We can get stuff bigger cities get,” Daniel said.

The investment also is a big show of confidence in downtown Carroll, Daniel noted. She thinks it will boost other businesses in the central business district.

People come here to do their shopping, to eat out and then go to the movies,” she said.

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