UNION, NJ – The Union Theater will cease operation immediately, according to township officials.

“After consulting with township administration, construction and health officials, the owners of the Union Theater have voluntarily decided to cease operations effective March 3, 2020,” said a statement from the township.  “The owners want to thank the Township for its consideration and hope the residents of Union remain patient as they work diligently to reopen the Theater,” continued the statement.

Just over one year ago, Union Mayor Michele Delisfort sent a strongly worded letter to the owner of the Empire Cinema Theatre threatening to “exercise power and authority as the franchiser of the movie theatre over the franchisee/property owner to bring their property up to safe and aesthetic standards.”  In the letter, Delisfort said the “dilapidated” theatre is an eyesore and a blight to Union Center.

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The letter outlined Fire, Health and Building Department violations and summonses, including non-working fire alarms, a failure to maintain in good working order all means of egress devices and safeguards, exposed pipes and a hole in the ceiling, two summonses for rodent infestation, and not supplying adequate heat in the building.

The letter sent last January indicated that the Township Administration offices have fielded “constant complaints from patrons of the theatre… including rain pouring in front of the movie screen while they are watching a movie that they paid to see.  ”The letter states that the Township has recently completed a $2 million streetscape renovation in Union Center with road repaving, sidewalk renovations, and “much more in the way of capital investments to revitalize our downtown”.

At the time, Peter Kafash of Empire Cinaplex said he had just been advised about a fire alarm issue.  “Even though I was out of the country, we took care of the matter urgently as public safety is our number one concern

“As you can image an eyesore such as this theatre is a blight on our downtown and we will no longer tolerate this,” concluded Delisfort’s letter.