Saturday, March 11, 2023 / by Teresa DiPeso
The revitalization of a retail center in Rio Grande once home to Kmart continues, with a planned multiscreen movie theater, bowling alley, restaurants and more. The much-anticipated facility is expected to be open by Memorial Day in the Cape May County Commons facility.
(Rendering of movie theater lobby)
The county purchased the former Kmart shopping center near routes 9 and 47 in 2018, bidding $5.75 million when the property went up for auction.
Currently, the property includes a mix of public facilities, including a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic and private businesses such as Tractor Supply.
But the dining and entertainment complex now in the works will take the mixed-use model to a whole new level, with two restaurant options, a retro arcade and other attractions designed to draw local and visiting families.
(Rendering of bowliing lanes)
Plans call for 9 movie screens in the theater, as well as a virtual golf course!
(Rendering of interior)
The county has a long-term agreement with Town Square Entertainment, known locally for transforming an old movie theater in Stone Harbor into a downtown centerpiece.
“There really isn’t anything like this in South Jersey that I’m aware of,” said Cape May County Counsel Jeff Lindsay.
The company also owns the Tilton Square Theatre in Northfield and the Ventnor Square Theatre, with plans in the works for the old Moorlyn Theatre on the Ocean City Boardwalk (currently underway and expected to open around Memorial Day as well) and for the county site, described as Cape Square Entertainment on the company website.
In Rio Grande, the plans call for two restaurants — one casual, the other more formal — as well as a 12-lane bowling alley and movie theater. As has been done in Stone Harbor, the plan is to also occasionally use the theater for live entertainment.
(Rendering of waiting area/dining)
“We were able to take a dilapidated eyesore in Rio Grande and make an attractive complex in Cape May County,” Lindsay said. He described Rio Grande as the economic hub for the county. It is the site of the largest number of national brand stores, and serves as the entranceway to the Wildwoods.
(Rendering of bar)
“The project is an excellent example of how public/private cooperation can spur quality, responsible economic development,” Mayor Tim Donohue said. “I applaud the bold and innovative approach taken by county government to revitalize the center and attract this amazing project.”