The Mosses know of this business called show.
This past summer, Charles Moss Jr. and his son Ben purchased for $3.1 million the block bounded by Main, Cary, Third and Fourth streets from Media General Operations Inc.
Their new production: a movie cinema and more for downtown Richmond.
The Moss family's connections to Broadway and film date back to the 1910s. Charles Moss Jr. produced a few movies; his 1971 Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a semi-classic. During the 1990s in New York, he produced numerous plays, including revivals of The Lion in Winter , 1776, A View From the Bridge , and the original Side Man .
The family's Bow Tie Partners was historically the largest independent film exhibitor in the New York City metro region until the Mosses moved into real estate and development. Bow Tie Partners operates the Criterion Cinemas in New Haven, Conn., and Movieland, a seven-screen multiplex outside Aspen, Colo.
A press-shy Charles Moss said in a brief phone interview, "We like Richmond a lot and we want to do business there."
As of mid-February, a description of the Richmond endeavor on the Bow Tie Web site said, "Its location between the centers of downtown Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University make it an ideal spot for a new urban mixed-use development." Plans include multifamily housing, retail space and a Bow Tie Cinema.
By the end of the month, a revised version of this statement appeared on the Web site, giving the project a name — Jefferson Square. While including an aerial photograph and a location map, the new description was, however, less detailed about Bow Tie's intentions. The 80,580-square-foot block is described as a "future major development site centrally located" in "vibrant, growing downtown Richmond." (Why the name Jefferson Square when the project is located in the middle of Monroe Ward? Not clear.)
The former Media General fleet-fueling station and a derelict office building on the property were demolished during December and January. The plans for a Bow Tie Cinema come amid several major nearby undertakings, including the announced Centennial Towers at Fifth and Main streets, and the expansion of VCU's Monroe Park campus east from Belvidere.
The Richmond Bow Tie Cinema may resemble the Temple Square development in New Haven. Temple Square contains the five-screen Bow Tie Criterion Cinemas, two restaurant spaces and 44 luxury rental residences, some with private terraces and individual parking spaces. Showing at the New Haven theater a few weeks ago were the documentary Why We Fight , the acclaimed London-set Mrs. Henderson Presents, Brokeback Mountain, Trans America and Woody Allen's Match Point .
The quality of the theater impressed New Haven Advocate editor Mark Oppenheimer. The city of Yale University is always wary of developers, he says, but the Mosses get credit for making the theaters look marvelous. "They definitely spruced up Temple Square," Oppenheimer says. "The theaters are well designed. The seats are comfortable. They made it for an excellent film-viewing experience."
The Mosses seem to possess a real understanding for the cineaste. Their New Haven theater, which sells beer and wine, also features alternative programs like Insomnia Theater, a Friday and Saturday night 11:30 p.m. showing of classics and cults. On two recent weekends, these were Dr. Strangelove and The Goonies . On Sunday at 11 a.m., there's Movie & Mimosas, which features films ranging from Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Lifeboat to The Sound of Music, Rosemary's Baby and Cabaret .
"This was a city eager for another art house," Oppenheimer says. "I think they've done a great job."
This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.