VINELAND — A company hoping to open an Italian restaurant in the city is trying to buy the Landis Theater property to renovate it and open the restaurant next to it, according to city documents.
City Council gave approval Tuesday to give the company, Abruzzo Ristorante, LLC, a $3 million loan from the city’s second generation Urban Enterprise Zone assistance funds to pursue the project, according to a council resolution.
Council voted 3-0 approving the use of the funds, and two council members were absent, according to city spokesman Michael Tofanelli.
The city does not have an additional comment on the potential sale, he said.
According to the loan proposal, the company interested wants to open a “first-class Italian restaurant” and was led to the theater and former restaurant building at 830 East Landis Ave.
The potential buyer decided to buy the building if the program’s funds could finance its renovations, the proposal states. The restaurant building used to be the site of Mauro’s on the Ave, which closed in March.
“They were unwilling to invest any money unless they owned the building,” the proposal states. “Due to the fact that it was attached to the theater, it was only possible if he purchased the entire facility.”
The project is slated to cost $4.6 million and would involve the acquisition and renovations to the interior and exterior of the theater and the adjacent building, in addition to a parking lot, the proposal states.
The idea is to “have people from New York manage the theater,” according to the proposal. The loan proposal was submitted to the City Council on Aug. 28 by the city’s Revolving Loan Fund Second Generation Loan Committee, along with a letter of recommendation signed by Sandra Forosisky, the director of economic development.
Abruzzo Ristorante, LLC is listed on the proposal with an address of 1300 Wheaton Ave. in Millville.
The Landis Theater was a part of the East Gateway redevelopment project in 2008 and has gone through several management changes over the last few years, according to the proposal.
The Vineland Development Corporation entered a management agreement with the Landis Theater Foundation in 2015, and the foundation turned over the building to the VDC in 2017, according to the proposal.
Maintaining the theater “is depleting the VDC of resources,” according to the proposal.