Bringing in a movie theater was something that the Pell City City Council has been working on for years and residents have been talking about for even longer.
According to Don Smith, Executive Director of the St. Clair County Economic Development Council, the community expressed the desire for a theater in 2008. City and County officials initiated discussions with a theater company, but due to the recession, plans did not move forward.
In 2013, the Council refocused on the effort, contacting operators to find a company that was a good fit for their vision. This led to negotiations with Premier Cinema and the birth of an agreement in which the cinema company will invest almost $10 million into the project.
This deal with Premier Cinema has now made the dream of a theater a reality, while adding in a bowling alley, arcade and event rooms to sweeten the deal. The Council officially approved two resolutions at the June 20 public hearing, moving the project forward.
The City will put $1,266 million towards the complex, $600,000 of that coming from a partnership with St. Clair County. That money will be paid back to the City and County over the course of the next 15 years, based on the mortgage agreement the City has set up with the company.
Premiere Cinema will repay the funds that have been invested via the taxes generated by the entertainment center. Because of the contract in place, the company guarantees to make annual payments of over $80,000 each year. That tax money taken from the project will not affect the percentage of tax money that goes to the school system, those funds will continue to go to the schools.
At Monday’s meeting, the podium was opened up to the audience, and concerns regarding traffic were discussed. Alan Shaddix, a former PCPD officer, praised the City’s efforts in bringing the complex to the community, but stated that he had seen how many car accidents already occur at the intersection in front of Walmart and he was concerned that additional development would only worsen the issue.
This concern is something that the City has already been working towards alleviating, according to City Manager Brian Muenger. He said that the increase in traffic is not something the City is blind to and that they are consulting with experts on ways to improve the traffic flow in the area.
With the groundbreaking for Buffalo Wild Wings held earlier this month, that region of Pell City has seen a lot of growth recently. Looking at the big picture, City officials are optimistic that this development will bring in even more growth and development to the City.
According to Muenger, Pell City has been getting interest regarding different sizable economic development opportunities, which was not the case before development of that area began to grow. Pell City Mayor Joe Funderburg also stated that he views this as a catalyst for more businesses to seek out Pell City as a prime location.
“Pell City is poised to become an even more successful community than it is now,” Smith said of the City’s current growth.
City Attorney John Rea said that construction could begin on the project within a few months. The site designated for the complex is located on Vaughan Lane in Pell City, with seven acres of land planned for the facility.