ALTON - Alton Mayor Brant Walker received one of the best birthday presents of his life on Thursday when it was announced that a new NCG Cinemas movie theater is coming to Alton Square Mall.

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The theater will be constructed in the space formerly occupied by Sears and feature eight state-of-the-art auditoriums with luxury seating.

"This is a great day for the citizens of Alton," Alton Mayor Walker said. "Various city administrations have sought to advance this project through the years and we are very excited to bring the project to fruition. This is truly a joyous occasion at the mall."

Theater construction will begin in January and the theater company said it expects an opening sometime this summer.

NCG Cinemas President Jeff Geiger said: "We are excited to enter the Alton, IL., market at Alton Square Mall. Our company is dedicated to providing our customers with a first-class movie-going experience and look forward to providing that opportunity later this year."

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John Mulherin, vice president of the Hull Group for Government Relations, said: “We are thrilled to partner with NCG Cinemas to bring a long-awaited theater to Alton. We have been working with the community leaders since we purchased the mall on bringing a theater to the property and it would not have been possible without the support and perseverance of Mayor Walker and the City Council.”

NCG Cinemas is a family-owned and operated theater chain headquartered in Owosso, Mich. The chain currently operates 25 theaters and 147 screens across its portfolio of operations. NCG consistently offers affordable movie tickets, free refills on popcorn and soda, select discount movie tickets on Tuesdays and a loyalty program for moviegoers.”

Jim Hull, managing principal of the Hull Group, closed by saying: “We are dedicated to providing customers with a quality shopping experience and a large part of that is working to bring strong tenants to the property. NCG Cinemas is a first-class addition. The new theater, coupled with the recent renovation, helps put the Alton Square Mall back on the right path.”

Hull also mentioned an upcoming expansion of OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony’s Health Center with a 12,000-square-foot rehab center as another key anchor to the continued Alton Square Mall development.

The theater announcement comes on the heels of the recently completed renovation of the property, which included new lighting, carpet, paint, and signage among other improvements that have enhanced the overall Alton Square Mall shopping experience, Hull said.

Walker appeared slightly embarrassed, but the group present sang "Happy Birthday" to him and he beamed and then again, confirmed it was one of his best gifts ever.

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