CHAPEL HILL – Dillard’s in University Mall will close its doors and a 13-screen luxury movie theater will open in its place in 2015.

After months of speculation that Dillard’s was leaving the shopping center on S. Estes Drive in Chapel Hill, UMall General Manager Peter De Leon made the announcement Tuesday that Silverspot Cinemas will be moving into the location.

“I feel the momentum is beginning to move forward with the new stores coming in,” De Leon said. “And I think that the picture I showed of the old entrance [of UMall] and where we are going—I think the community will really embrace it. It is just exciting.”


Gonzalo Ulivi, manager of Silverspot Cinema, said the theater will offer independent and foreign films in addition to blockbusters and 3D films. Alternative content such as live broadcasts of international opera, ballet, and theatrical performances will be featured as well.

“It’s a small boutique experience different to a traditional multi-plex and it is based on service, high-end design and our booking strategy which is what types of films we will bring in,” Ulivi said.

As part of a greater redevelopment plan for UMall, new leases signed this year include William Travis Fine Jewelers, Fine Feathers, Peacock Alley, TrySports and Kidzu Children’s Museum. Plaza Azteca, a Mexican restaurant, will join the dining options in 2014. The shopping center’s Harris Teeter is undergoing a $9 million renovation.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said that he believed the new $7 million cinema would bring in additional traffic to the shopping center, which is a Madison Marquette property.

“I think that Silverspot provides a regional destination opportunity for University Mall that will reap benefits for our locally-owned retail stores that are being nurtured here,” Kleinschmidt said.

A source told WCHL News in September that Dillard’s was leaving and that negotiations were underway with a non-retail store to replace it. Currently the clothing store is functioning as a clearance center.

“I think that it is exciting because of what it could mean for this retail center,”said Dwight Bassett, the Town’s economic development officer.  “It also prevents us from having, with Dillard’s decision not remain in the community, to not have a vacant space. It will be something productive to contribute back to the mall and the surrounding areas.”

Silverspot Cinema will offer casual dining options and a lounge area. The Chapel Hill location will be fifth domestic location for the company, a division of Cines Unidos—one of the largest cinema companies is South America.