Plans for former cinema in Seekonk creating controversy

    The Showcase Cinema on Route 114A in Seekonk has been closed for years, but the owner’s new plans are creating some drama. (WJAR)

    The Showcase Cinema on Route 114A in Seekonk has been closed for years.

    Now, the owner’s new plans are creating some drama.

    It’s not just about his proposals for the property, which now include a marijuana facility, in addition to a previous pitch to build 102 condos.

    Charles Tapalian is drawing criticism for an offer to get some people to go to an upcoming vote.

    Tapalian, who also owns the Greenbrier Apartment Complex behind the vacant theater, is offering Greenbrier tenants a $500 rent voucher for going to the town vote on the condo plan January 28.

    The message to tenants states it does not matter how they vote.

    David Andrade, who is the chairman of the Seekonk Board of Selectmen told NBC 10 News Thursday the rent offer is “incredibly unscrupulous, underhanded” and “trying to influence a vote, if not manipulate it.”

    Tapalian said the offer is legal and when asked about the perception, responded, “In today’s world, are we going to be worried about looking good?”

    Meanwhile, Tapalian confirmed he also is seeking to lease the cinema building to a marijuana operation. He said he will file plans with the town next week.

    Everett Medeiros lives down the street.

    “I would rather see the pot place come in, to be honest with you. I don’t care for that complex (Greenbrier). They could have done a better job. Seekonk could have done a better job. They didn’t. There’s a lot more traffic,” Medeiros told NBC 10.

    Greenbrier resident Dennis Coyle shared his sentiments.

    “It’s already big enough. Why expand more?” said Coyle. “Traffic is bad as it is over here. Imagine if they had a grow house over here? Traffic’s going to be even worse.”

    Fellow tenant Judy Agar is OK with more homes, but not marijuana.

    “I don’t want that. I’m not happy with the marijuana places,” she said.

    Another tenant, who only wanted to be identified as Debby, is all for new development.

    “I think it’s great. I think something should be done there. We’ve been looking at it for, what, 10 years, whatever,” she said. “Charlie knows what he’s doing.”

    Tapalian told NBC 10 people should have no concerns with either of his plans.

    Seekonk has a designated area zoned for marijuana business in another part of town.

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