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Tear it down or fix it up? The old Cinema North could be gone by January

Cinema North was built in 1965, and has more or less been vacant since 1990. Weather and neglect can be clearly seen. (Brett Hall/CNYCentral.)

It can be hard to imagine there ever being excitement surrounding the tattered and neglected Cinema North, but there could be soon if the owner follows through on a commitment to bring the eyesore down before the end of the year.

Built in 1965, the theater opened to much fanfare. The first film screened was "Do Not Disturb," starring Doris Day. It closed in 1990 when the theater's owner could no longer get first-run motion pictures to show there, according to a Herald-Journal article, published at the time.

After a quarter of a century, the building sits in poor condition alongside a heavily traveled stretch of I-81. Graffiti litters the walls, bricks are missing in many spots and bee and bird nests are the only signs of life.

"Something needs to be done with it," said Steven Procopio, director of planning and development for the Town of Salina. "Demolition or repair. The building has really deteriorated over the years."

A report ordered by the Salina codes office in 2016 concluded the building is unsafe, uninhabitable and structurally unsound. Several code violations have been issued for the structure's unsecured entrances.

"Vandals have repeatedly removed the boards and barricades and entered," said Procopio.

Photos submitted to CBS5 and CNYCentral.com of the inside of the building paint an eerie picture. The big screen is a distant memory, there is no line at the popcorn stand and random debris fills the area where you used to grab your seat.

The building is owned by Berkley Properties LLC, based out of Nanuet, NY. The company owns properties throughout Central New York, including the Fayetteville Square Shopping Center, the Mattydale Plaza and James Court Apartments in Syracuse.

"We are going to be demolishing the building and removing it," said Michael Silberberg with Berkley. "It needs to come down, it's an eyesore."

The property has been in the news before with prospects of new development, however nothing is currently in the cards, Silberberg said.

"We always had these deals that were on and off and as part of those deals [Cinema North] was coming down. As those deals fell by the wayside, the demolition of the cinema fell by the wayside," said Silberberg. "There was talk about a hotel, but we have come to the conclusion that will no longer be the best use for the property."

Silberberg said he has been in contact with several contractors to work out the best way to demolish the structure. He's not sure what possible harmful materials may be inside that need to be treated with care.

There is no firm date yet for demolition to occur.

If you have an idea for a building to be featured on Tear it down or Fix it up, contact information can be found here.

Tear it down or Fix it up will air each Monday during the month of May of CBS5 news at 11.

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