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City Moves Forward on Countryside Center Theater Proposal

Aldermen unanimously approved a special use permit for the proposed 38,500 square-foot complex.

Yorkville officials are moving forward to bring a 10-screen movie theater to the Countryside Center.

During Tuesday night’s council meeting 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 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.

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.

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 proposal was supported unanimously by the city plan commission.

Prior to approving the theater, officials questioned whether or not 418 parking spots allotted to the cinema was appropriate for a complex that has a capacity of 1,900. Dan Kramer, a spokesman for Neighborhood Cinema Group, said the outlying lots that are part of the development, will have enough spaces to share. Community Development Director Krysti Barksdale-Noble agreed. She said for every four seats in a theater there is a need for one parking space.  

“The theater isn’t going to harm themselves by having too few parking. I don’t’ see a problem with shared us parking,” said Ward III Alderman Chris Funkhouser. 

Developer Jim Ratos would build the theater for 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.

The developers will return before the city council with engineering plans in the future.

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