UPDATE: NJ cinemas closed since 2005 finally demolished
UPDATE: Demolition has begun at the Amboy Cinemas. See more recent photos here.
It was the place where we took dates as teenagers. The place we drove to when we first got our driver's license to catch a movie. Amboy Cinemas.
It opened in 1979 when I was still a kid. It's the place we saw "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Die Hard." It was the place to see a movie in the '80s. Remember all the arcade games in the lobby back when that was a big thing? Remember the huge snack bar?
It reigned for a quarter century in Sayreville at Routes 9 and 35 as an entertainment hub for much of Middlesex County. It closed down in 2005 when a routine inspection discovered a problem with the main floor. In short, it was caving in. The whole project sat in a marshy area.
It has stood abandoned ever since. The vacant structure slowly fell into disrepair and it became one of the places New Jersey's so-called urban explorers seek out. Here's one example.
It's not even recognizable to me with all the decay and I was in this theater many times.
New plans for Amboy Cinemas property
So what can be done with this mess? There's a plan. At least the very beginning of a plan.
After 17 years sitting empty and rotting, something may be done. The township approved an ordinance establishing a redevelopment plan for the nearly 20 acre site. It could become anything from a hotel to office space, another recreational use or some type of commercial retail space to any number of other things.
It’s a long road.
There’s groundwater contamination that may need to be dealt with and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to get through. Also, FEMA mapping shows much of the property is in a flood zone so there would need to be a wetlands investigation as part of any redevelopment.
Local officials believe it can all be worth it.
“This is the entrance, the gateway of our town,” said Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick at the council meeting last month. “This is what you come over the bridge and you see every single day.”
Funny. When I pass it I just still see my old Mercury Montego parked in the lot.
Demolition has begun at the Amboy Cinemas. See more recent photos here.
WARNING: Under no circumstances should you enter this property. By doing so you risk bodily harm and/or prosecution for trespassing on private property.
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Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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