Ground has been broken on a plot of land that is the future site of a 10-screen movie theater at the Countryside Center.
Representatives of developer Jim Ratos said they have been able to take advantage of the mild winter weather to begin preliminary grading of the property where the 1,900 stadium seat capacity theater will call home.
In October city officials unanimously approved a preliminary concept plan for special use permit as a planned unit development of the 38,500-square-foot theater. The theater is expected to include digital projection and sound and be capable of showing 3-D films on each screen. The theater will also include one screen that has the capability of screening IMAX movies.
There have been a few modifications to the property plan, including a slight reduction in the number of parking spaces, although designs for the site have not been finalized.
The currently vacant property has been the subject of a problematic tax increment financing district that is costing the city more than $300,000 annually year on bonds issued in the Countryside TIF fund. The fund currently receives less than $10,000 a year from investments and taxes.
In October City Administrator Bart Olson said the city is agreeing to provide the remaining $1.8 million in TIF funds to the developers, which is approximately 25 percent of the city’s cash balance. The theater will defray the bond payments each year, Olson said.
“We won’t be in the black on this from a TIF perspective,” he said at that council meeting.
While the new agreement would deplete the bond proceeds from the Countryside TIF funds, the development will provide new property tax dollars for the fund.
The theater will be operated by Neighborhood Cinema Group, an Owosso, MI,-based company that operates 14 first-run theaters in small communities. The theater would sit on the lot closest to Route 47; preliminary plans show four commercial lots in Countryside Center.
The theater could employ approximately 50 people and open in November of 2013.