DRUGSTORE PLAN MAY DOOM THEATER

BRIAN NEARING Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B4

Date: Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Albany The former Norma Jean Madison Theater, one of the city's oldest movie houses, could be bulldozed to make way for a drugstore. The CVS pharmacy chain wants the property on Madison Avenue near South Main Avenue to replace a smaller drugstore next door, said Shannon Hickman, a member of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association.


The theater, which opened in 1927 as the Madison, has been closed since December 2001 after the business failed. Hickman said pharmacy officials contacted the neighborhood about a month ago about the proposal.


``The association hasn't had time to gauge the plan yet,'' Hickman said. ``But there are strong sentiments against tearing down more buildings on Madison Avenue.''


Calls to William McLaughlin, a spokesman for CVS, were not returned.


Hickman said CVS plans to build a 13,000 square-foot pharmacy with a drive-through window. Company officials told members of the neighborhood association that it would cost more to fix the theater than it is worth, she said.


The association failed to interest the College of Saint Rose and University at Albany in buying the theater, Hickman said.


In 1994, owner Paul Fiedler took it over and renamed it the Norman Jean Madison, converting it into five theaters and later adding two more.