Kids patiently waited outside for the soft opening of the Pleasant Valley Plaza in Houston. See story on page 10. (Angelique Houlihan photos/Houston Today)

Kids patiently waited outside for the soft opening of the Pleasant Valley Plaza in Houston. See story on page 10. (Angelique Houlihan photos/Houston Today)

Pleasant Valley Plaza re-opens after two years

New movie projector ordered and on its way

The Pleasant Valley Plaza partially re-opened last week but it will be a while yet before one of its prime features, showing new-release movies, will be on offer.

The projector that was part of the inventory that came with the building required an expensive repair after not being used for two years, explained Marian Ells, the manager for Houston Link to Learning, the non-profit agency which purchased the Plaza building earlier this year.

“The piece of the projector that plays the new-release movies did not work and needed an expensive repair. The projector still works for playing DVDs,” said Ells.

“The estimated repair costs were at least $15,000 so we started to look at a new projector as this one is older, many manual features and little or no new technology. The new projectors are around $60,000 which is not something we had planned to deal with in our first year,” she said.

“We reached out to our fabulous Bulkley Valley Credit Union and they made a donation of $30,000 toward the cost of the new projector which we are so grateful for. We have now ordered a new projector and are continuing our fundraising efforts for the other half of the costs.”

Until the new projector arrives, the Plaza will be showing movies on DVDs and while it will not charge for that, is accepting donations to flesh out the purchase price of the new equipment.

The Plaza re-opened April 19 with a full concession, movies, bowling and mini-golf.

Ells said a full re-opening and new release movies will have to wait until the new projector arrives.

In the interim the Plaza will be open Tuesday during the day and Thursday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Houston Link to Learning received a substantial grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust earlier this year to aid in its purchase of the closed Pleasant Valley Plaza entertainment complex.

The intent is not only to re-open the Plaza as an entertainment space but to use it as a training ground to teach business and other skills.

And while Houston Link to Learning concentrates on the Plaza’s offerings, Lee’s Garden Restaurant, operating as a separate business at the location, has announced it is closing after 34 years.

Ells said Houston Link to Learning would be open to renting the space after Lee’s closes the end of May.

“If we don’t get a restaurant to rent the space, we will re-evaluate, no firm plans at this point,” she said.

Will HLL entertain proposals from others to operate the business (provided the essential equipment remains)? Yes, we would be open to other restaurants renting the space after Lees closes.

Would it want to run the business itself as part of HLL’s overall approach for employment/skills training? If we don’t get a restaurant to rent the space we will re-evaluate, no firm plans at this point.

And how is recruiting going given the gradual re-opening plan for the Plaza? It’s going well so far. Of course everyone is struggling to hire but we have had a lot of applications. We have our opening day Tuesday 19th and we have a partial schedule for now until we get our new projector installed and running so we can show the new release movies.