Movie theater set to reopen in February

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The Cross Creek Plaza owner says the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop should also be ready for a February opening. The rebuilding of the structure housing the other businesses closed due to the damage sustained from the April fire will not be completed until the spring.

By Sara Rosner / Special to The Malibu Times

Though the stark frames rising above the Cross Creek Plaza are an eerie reminder of the fire that destroyed parts of the structures in April, they also signify the revival of the plaza. Cross Creek Plaza owner Steve Soboroff said Monday that repairs on the first building of the plaza, which houses the New Malibu Theater and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop, should be finished by the end of the year and the businesses will reopen in February.

Local contractors began working on the plaza two months ago and are repairing the roof of the theater, installing air-conditioning and adding fixtures to the retail spaces this week.

Chief Operating Officer John Hunter of Wallace Theaters, which is the company that manages the theater, told The Malibu Times earlier this year that the company was considering building stadium seating for a redesigned movie theater. However, Soboroff said Monday that there was not enough space to accommodate those plans.

The second building, which houses Casa Escobar, Bay City Beauty Supply and Fast Frame, is the site of the initial fire and incurred the most damage of the three buildings in the plaza. The third building, which houses Banana Republic and the Malibu Eye Center, were relatively unharmed from the fire. Optometrist Gregory O’Connor of the Malibu Eye Center said in July that a damaged wall must be removed. Soboroff said that the second building would take three to four months longer to rebuild than the first building and expects the work to be completed by the spring.

Soboroff said that the $2.5 million construction project would still allow for improvement in the retail spaces, which were built in 1970. “The new stores are definitely going to be better than the old ones,” Soboroff said of the construction, and added that plans may include the addition of outdoor patio dining in front of Casa Escobar. Employees of the restaurant did not return calls for this article.

Billy Cates, manager of Bay City Beauty Supplies in Santa Monica, said that he is also looking forward to the possibilities a new store will offer. “It would be nice to go in and change some things,” Cates said.

Cates added that he was thankful for the help of Malibu residents, some of whom have kept in touch since the temporary closure of the store. “Malibu is a little town, so when something happens everybody knows about it,” Cates said. “They’ve been very supportive of us.”

Soboroff said that the stores, the movie theater and the restaurant were important to Malibu and that their relationship with the community is what prevented Soboroff from ousting them after the fire in favor of tenants who would pay higher rent. “These are services that have been in the community for years,” Soboroff said. “The community likes them so much.”

The April 17 fire damaged or destroyed nearly a third of Cross Creek Plaza and six vehicles parked in the area. The Los Angeles County Fire Department determined in May that an electrical malfunction in the second building was the cause of the blaze.