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Repossessor gets Imax projector

After trying for several years to collect back payments for its $2 million projector from the closed Imax theater, Imax Corp. took matters into its own hands early Friday.

A crane lifted the 1,300-pound projector out of the building at the Newport on the Levee complex.

Toronto-based Imax Corp. confirmed that it had a court order to repossess the projector, the latest twist in a saga that started with the theater's opening in 2001.

What's left is an empty building for sale, good only as a 456-seat theater, with no projection equipment - although attached to a thriving entertainment center.

Imax said it had looked for other operators but couldn't find one willing and able to take over the Newport theater. It has moved forward with Imax theaters in Springdale and Louisville.

Newport officials said they weren't involved in the repossession case except for some tax payments. Officials at Newport on the Levee declined to comment, noting that the Imax's owner also owned the building.

That owner was Ron Roberts, the former executive director of the Cincinnati Business Committee. By the time it closed in June 2003, the theater was two years behind in lease payments on the $2 million projector.

The theater and Roberts filed for bankruptcy. Earlier this year, he was hired as a consultant to Hamilton County and played a key role in the June selection of a developer for the Banks riverfront project.

Roberts also owned an Imax theater in Gatlinburg, Tenn., that filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

A year ago, the lenders that held a $2.25 million note on the theater sued for foreclosure, hoping to gain title to the property and find a buyer. They said they were owed nearly $3.7 million before the repossession.
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