The Regal Northstar theater, 201 N. Northpark Lane, plans to reopen on Aug. 21. But don't be surprised if that date is postponed.

Regal, which closed its Joplin theaters on March 17, planned to reopen its theaters on July 10 and then on July 31. Announcing and then delaying the reopening date is clearly tied to the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the theater chain reopens on Aug. 21, the theaters will be operating under new safety guidelines that the company says will follow guidance by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Welcoming theatergoers back to our cinemas will be a celebration for not only our team and our industry but most importantly for the fans who have been anxiously awaiting the year’s upcoming releases,” said Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Regal’s parent company Cineworld, in a statement. “With the health and safety of our staff, customers and communities as our top priority, we are happy to invite audiences to return to the timeless theatrical experience that we have all dearly missed.”

When the theaters reopen, employees and customers will be required to wear face masks when not seated. You will be able to take off your mask while you watch the movie. The theaters also will reduce capacity by 50%. There will be two empty seats between groups. The auditoriums will be sanitized with ULV foggers after each screening. Other health and safety protocols include contactless payments, daily health screenings for all workers and no soda refills at the concession stand.

Regal Cinemas, formerly known as Regal Entertainment Group, is headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee. After AMC, it operates the second-largest theater circuit in the United States, with more than 7,300 screens in 564 theaters as of June 2016. The company became a subsidiary of UK-based Cineworld Group in 2018.

On the market

Location is everything, especially on South Range Line Road. A property that has been a bare lot for decades is now on the market for a little more than $2.4 million.

About 30 days ago, the northeast corner of 36th Street and Range Line Road was listed with Alan Buttram Commercial Real Estate. This property, which involves about 2.8 acres, is nestled in the heart of Joplin's hotel and restaurant district. It is a prime site for a hotel, a travel plaza — you name it. Right now, it is one of the most popular spots in Joplin to seek handouts, which appears to be happening on a much wider scale in Joplin now.

Years ago, back in the 1990s, the property was home to a NAPA Auto Parts store and a convenience store. The stores were destroyed by a severe thunderstorm that might have produced a small tornado or a gustnado directly over the hotel district. As I recall, some of the hotels were damaged too. People were injured. The property was cleared after the storm but not redeveloped.

It's sort of like what has happened in parts of Joplin after the 2011 tornado. The properties have been cleared, but nothing has happened with them for nine years. It's most noticeable on South Main Street.

I understand there has been quite a bit of interest in the property at 36th Street and Range Line. Its redevelopment could produce a big asset for South Range Line Road at a time when it could use one.

Off the path

I have been wanting to try the new Pineapple Bliss Dessert Shop at 1021 E. 20th St. for some time, but the line of cars at the drive-thru window has made that nearly impossible. But the other day, there was only one car in line, so I stopped.

I am so glad I did. I ordered a small lemon bliss that was so refreshing. No wonder the customers have been waiting in line. The ice cream is made with coconut oil instead of dairy products and uses natural sugars from fruit and fruit juice instead of added sugar, making it mostly nonfat and low-calorie. Pineapple Bliss serves about a dozen different flavors.

Virtual ArtWalk

The First Thursday ArtWalk resumes this Thursday with a full night of virtual entertainment starting at 5:30 p.m. on Facebook. The program will feature prerecorded artist interviews and concerts.

There will be artist interviews by Andrew Batcheller with sculptor Melody Knowles and painters Liz Darling and Eric Beezley. Guests will include jeweler Marta Churchwell and painters Brittany Spaulding and Shaun Riley.

Downtown art shows at Club 609 will feature “Chiefs and Friends'' by Jason Williams, "Celebrities'' by painter Jim Johnson at Urban Art Gallery, and "Florals'' by Lou Stine at Joplin Avenue Coffee Co. Among the musicians performing will be the Ozark Bards, the husband-and-wife duo of Dwayne and Barbara Smith, and Violet Vonder Haar.

If you have news about something that’s happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; or send an email to wkennedy@joplinglobe.com; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.

Wally Kennedy is a reporter and columnist for The Joplin Globe.