Theater projects are moving forward
By KELLI LEVEY
Eagle Staff Writer
Another developer has unveiled plans to build a movie theater near the intersection of Earl Rudder Freeway and F.M. 158 — the second such announcement in a week.
Even though the planned theaters would be across the street from each other, officials with both projects said Tuesday they are moving forward.
The latest proposal calls for a 16-screen theater with high-back rocking loveseats, gourmet coffee and a bistro cafe.
Premiere Cinema Corp. of Big Spring plans to develop the theater on 12.5 acres, Premiere CEO Gary Moore said Tuesday. The landowner, Mark Carrabba, developed the Austin’s Colony subdivision.
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The proposed development is across F.M. 158, or Boonville Road, from the proposition announced last week. That project would put a 12-screen theater, a hotel and four restaurants just south of Boonville Road in a partnership between Bryan native Mark Schulman and Dallas developer Pete Connell.
Moore said he didn’t know until last week that anyone else was considering building a theater in Bryan. He said his company first considered Bryan two years ago and began serious negotiations in April. He said he considered several sites, including the Tejas Center mall on Villa Maria Road that is being renovated.
He said Bryan’s growth, spurred by Blinn College’s expansion in the area, and the economic stability offered by Texas A&M University attracted his company.
“ We’ve just always thought Bryan would be a great market for a theater and felt like there was enough density in Bryan-College Station to support another one,” he said. “Now, with the availability of what we considered a great piece of land, we are ready to go.”
Plans for the 50-acre lot east of Premiere’s theater development call for at least two restaurants and retail space, Moore said.
“ Whenever we build a new theater, restaurants typically come along, too,” he said.
For instance, he said, before a Premiere theater was completed in Baytown two years ago a Chili’s and a Johnny Carino’s opened nearby.
Premiere has built 14 theaters since the company’s inception in 1985, including eight in Houston, numerous others around the state, some in Alabama and one in Orlando, Fla.
Moore predicted the initial groundwork will begin next week and construction will be in full swing by the third week in January.
Schulman and Connell plan to reveal more details about their “City Lights of Bryan” complex Monday at a meeting with the Bryan Business Council, where they plan to discuss possible incentives.
Any incentives recommended by the business council must be approved by the Bryan City Council.
Kevin Russell, Bryan’s development coordinator, called the process “exciting but nerve-racking” as he waits for the developers to complete the necessary review process with the city and secure their financing.
“ You see everything going so fast when a month ago it seemed like there was no movement on either one,” he said. “You don’t want one of them to scare the other one off so they don’t come. You want them both to go for it and just see how it pans out.”
Kevin Walker, Bryan’s economic development director, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see both developments come to fruition.
Moore said film distribution companies consider Bryan a separate market from College Station, which is home to Cinemark’s Hollywood 16, so either theater would be able to get first-run films. But he said Bryan is not ready to support two theaters.
“ If it gets two, it’s going to be a fight for every film,” he said. “It would be very competitive and both couldn’t stay in business for the long term.”
Schulman, whose family ran movie theaters in Bryan for 76 years, said Tuesday’s announcement just reinforced his instincts that Bryan is ripe for another theater.
“ It’s always good to know you’re doing the right things to attract attention,” he said. “We’re excited about our location, and we’re moving forward.”
While it isn’t typical for movie theaters to open so near one another, Schulman said “that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened and that they haven’t thrived.”
“ We’ll all just have to wait and see what happens,” he said.
• Kelli Levey’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.