Movie theater demolition creates 28th Street vacancy


 Celebration! Cinema’s Studio 28 in Wyoming was once billed as the world’s “largest” multiplex. Courtesy Celebration! Cinema

Say goodbye to what was once hailed as the “largest” theater in the world, and say hello to 20 acres of property on 28th Street.

Large tract

Studio 28, the historic movie theater in Wyoming, is officially in the process of being demolished, at 1350 28th St. SW.

The work to tear down the now vacant and failing building has begun, now that the needed permit arrived from the city of Wyoming, said Emily Loeks, director of community affairs at Celebration! Cinema, a Grand Rapids-based movie theater chain that owns the property.

The destruction of the 125,000-square-foot building will cost about $100,000 and likely be a month-long process, as workers are at the mercy of the weather, Loeks said.

“Back when we closed it in 2008, most everything of value was removed,” Loeks said. “It’s pretty much a shell of a building. It’s a really big piece of property, and one of the few large tracts of land close to the city. It served the area as a vibrant center of the community for 43 years, and now we have to figure out a plan for something new.”

Loeks said there have been several discussions about what could go in the space next.

The Loeks family, which owns Celebration! Cinema, would like to see either a retailer or a community center at the site.

Historic run

Studio 28 opened in 1965 with one screen. At its peak, it boasted 20 screens and could fit 1,000 people in a single theater, Loeks said.

The studio’s popularity, however, began to wane after Celebration! Cinema opened up three other movie theaters in the area over a 15-year stretch. The theaters soon became competition for the Wyoming theater, drawing attention and dollars away from the aging Studio 28, which finally closed its doors in 2008.

Although she’s excited for what comes next, Loeks still looks back fondly on the memories she made at Studio 28, calling it a place where “movie magic happened.”

“It’s a theater we were really proud of,” Loeks said. “It’s a building that had a history that was certainly personally significant to our family, and I think it laid the foundations for a healthy, family owned movie exhibition company that continues to thrive here.” 

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