Drive-in theater land for sale

| Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

Plans to re-open the Twin Hi-Way drive-in theater in Robinson this spring are moving ahead, despite the start of a marketing effort to sell the 48-acre property just off Steubenville Pike.

"I have a four-year lease and I plan to open the theater," said Jerry Salnoris, of Regency Cinema Services Inc., a company formed to operate the drive-in facility.

"There is a drive-in that is going to open up on the land this year," said Greg Broujos, the commercial real estate broker handling the sale effort.

Broujos, with NAI Pittsburgh Commercial, a Downtown-based real estate brokerage, is representing the Butya family, the long-time owners of the property. Co-owners are John Butya, an attorney who lives in Kennedy, and his sister, Jan Zarzeczny, of Ohio Township.

The asking price is $12 million, or about $250,000 per acre.

If the property is sold, Salnoris and his partners in Regency Cinema would have a one-year window to keep the theater open while negotiating a deal with a new property owner, Broujos said.

"My brother and I wanted to see something useful done with the property," said Zarzeczny, adding that they grew up in Robinson and often went to the Twin Hi-Way Drive-In, which was owned by their father.

"When Jerry came to us with the idea for the new drive-in we thought it was an exciting opportunity," she said. "For the community it should be great."

As for other potential uses for the property, a majority of the site is zoned C-2, which would permit most types of commercial development, including retail, office or mixed-use development, Broujos said. A small portion of the property is zoned to permit residential uses.

"We already have substantial national interest from developers," Broujos said.

The high asking price for a property assessed at only about $800,000 is being driven by the favorable market for prime property in the Robinson area, he said. "It's been in their family for a very long time, and just like many other property sellers, they want to take advantage of what's going in the marketplace."

Retail developments in the Parkway West corridor include the Mall at Robinson, Robinson Town Centre, and the Pointe at North Fayette.

Another major project, a 580,000-square-foot regional lifestyle center known as Settlers Ridge, is planned in Robinson, just off the Parkway West. Though that project is to include a 16-screen multiplex cinema, it will not affect plans to re-open the drive-in, said Solnoris, a 30-year veteran of the theater industry.

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