Atlanta’s historic Tara Theatre will return in spring 2023 through an agreement forged by leaders of another historic cinema. A team led by Chris Escobar, owner of The Plaza Theatre and executive director of Atlanta Film Society, negotiated an agreement with Halpern Enterprises, owners of the Cheshire Square shopping center where the Tara Theatre is located at 2354 Cheshire Bridge Road NE. Escobar announced the return of Tara Theatre, as well as a new nonprofit fundraising campaign in support of the theatre’s long-term viability, during the closing event for the 2023 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival held Tuesday evening.
“For almost 55 years Atlanta’s Tara Theatre entertained and created cherished memories for countless moviegoers,” said Escobar. “It is an honor and privilege for our team to create a sustainable future for this important landmark that will enable new generations of Atlantans and movie fans celebrate films of the past, present and future.”
Escobar’s team also announced creation of Tara Theatre LLC to be structured like Plaza Theatre LLC, the for-profit business created to preserve and operate the Midtown venue since 2017. Escobar’s team also announced creation of Friends of Tara Foundation, a nonprofit organization modeled after the nonprofit Plaza Theatre Foundation as a fundraising division. “The foundations help preserve and share these historic venues with future generations,” added Escobar.
Friends of Tara Foundation’s initial stated goal is to raise more than $50,000 before Tara Theatre reopens on a to-be-announced spring date. Donations will be accepted through the theatre’s new website TheTaraAtlanta.com which will launch in the days ahead. The public may also support the theatre via advance ticket or gift card purchases available through the website.
“The foundations enable anyone to contribute to the financial security and sustainable future of both historic cinemas in that all funds raised supplement the unpredictable ebb and flow of ticket, snack and merchandise purchases at the venues,” said Escobar. “More importantly, the foundations support long-term physical improvements and accessibility at the theatres, also enabling independent artists, film festivals or other nonprofits to engage the community with improved event spaces.”
The Tara Theatre LLC team for the reopening and management of the venue also includes cinema booker/operator Michael Spaeth and his wife, Kris Spaeth, as well as Steve Krams of Magna-Tech Electronic as equity partners with Escobar. Magna-Tech will provide the equipment and installation of Tara’s new projection technology which will include new digital formats as well as historic 33mm and 70mm film projectors, making The Plaza and Tara the city’s only theatres with both types of older film projection units.
“For the first time in more than a decade, The Tara will be a cinema regularly presenting films in their original formats,” said Escobar. He added the Tara will create a robust schedule of events featuring classic film, art house releases and independent films. This format brings back some of the traditions established during the first few decades of operation after Loews opened Tara Theatre in 1968 or “the Lefont years” starting in 1980 through their transition to United Artists.
“Magna-Tech’s investment as a partner for Tara creates drastic cost savings for the project,” said Escobar.
With the creation of Tara Theatre LLC, three employees of Plaza Theatre LLC will be promoted to work with both venues, with C.J. Swank continuing as operations director, Richard Martin as programming director and Kristin Anderson as marketing and events manager.
Escobar said negotiations for the return of Tara Theatre began as soon as he learned of the venue’s closing announced last fall by its previous tenants.
“We owe tremendous gratitude to Kenny Blank, who went to bat for our team to establish and encourage ongoing conversations with Halpern Enterprises,” said Escobar. “Halpern Enterprises clearly valued the input that local management brings to the table in terms of contemporary cinema operations, and we greatly appreciate their willingness to collaborate.”
Kenny Blank, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival executive and artistic director, also commented on the news: “The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival is proud to have worked behind the scenes to champion this exciting initiative to reopen Atlanta’s historic Tara Theatre. We understand the importance of preserving Atlanta’s cultural landscape and Tara’s place as a beloved landmark and beacon of the cinematic arts. AJFF salutes Chris Escobar for his passion and vision, and join him in celebrating this thrilling news, as we welcome festivalgoers and all audiences back to the Tara in the near future and for years to come.”
John Brazovic, regional director of leasing, managed the negotiation for Halpern Enterprises. “We are gratified by the positive response this announcement has elicited from the community and proud to have recruited Chris Escobar and his team to launch this next chapter in the life of the Tara Theatre,” said Jack Halpern, Halpern Enterprises Chairman & CEO.
More information about Tara Theatre will be posted in the days ahead via TheTaraAtlanta.com and elsewhere online with social media handles @TheTaraAtlanta via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Anyone interested in more information, joining or supporting Friends of Tara Foundation may donate or contact the theatre team via the website.
Halpern Enterprises is a privately held commercial real estate firm specializing in retail leasing, management, acquisitions and development. For more than 60 years, our collaborative, hands-on approach has created value for hundreds of tenants and resulted in the long-term success of our shopping centers. Headquartered in Atlanta, Halpern owns and operates more than 50 properties totaling more than 3.7 million square feet in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.