New Cary development building zero-gravity movie seating for post-pandemic life

Posted February 22, 2021 5:58 a.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2021 9:52 a.m. EST

— A new mixed-use development under construction in Cary is prepared for life after the pandemic. It includes a strategy to attract people back to the movies with a new cinema experience.

Paul Zarian, director at Hines, a Houston-based real estate investment firm, along with co-developer and partner, Columbia Development, has a vision for 92 acres along Cary Towne Boulevard.

He calls it "Fenton."

"This is going to be very walkable, pedestrian-focused," said Zarian. "If you live at Fenton, you can walk across the street to your office building and you could meet a friend for dinner."

Fenton encompasses 350,000 square feet of retail, 200,000 square feet of office space, plus 357 apartment units. They are all within walking distance of restaurants, shops and a new generation of "movie theater," called Paragon.

The movie house will inhabit a portion of Fenton that includes an ice skating rink, concert space and holiday celebrations.

Developers have provided artist renderings of a large lobby, a long concession stand and dining space for before the movie. No conceptual art has been made available for what is called "pod seating."

Zarian said, "They are looking to include pod seating as well as zero-gravity seating which are completely innovative concepts."

Zarian says it is designed for privacy, separation and safety. The new Paragon Theater staff will deliver food and beverage directly to customers’ seats.

The pandemic hit traditional movie theaters hard, with many of them closing down. More film companies are now releasing their movies on streaming services.

Zarian explained the Paragon strategy. "What they are looking to do is really create an elevated experience in order to convince people to go back. Our belief is that once people feel safe, once COVID-19 is behind us, they are going to go back to living their daily lives. People want to go on dates, take families out, meet friends," he said.

The first phase of the Fenton development is scheduled to open in April of 2022.

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