By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR — City officials had twice as many reasons to celebrate uplifting economic news with the back-to-back announcements of movie theater plans by major cinema chains.
Earlier this month MJR Digital Cinema confirmed plans for the Grand Taylor Experience, a renovation of theaters on the south side of Eureka in the former Burlington Shopping Center, once home to the AMC Star theater. Work begins this month on state-of-the-art upgrades — to include reclining leather seats, digital projection and Dolby sound in 10 auditoriums — expected to be complete by December.
A second announcement in as many days reported the development of a Cinemark NextGen Theatre north of Eureka at the site of the former Mervyn’s store in Southland Center. Andrew Silberfein, CEO of mall owners Rouse Properties, told city officials that the theater chain plans a 50,000-square-foot facility with 12 all-digital screens, reclining leather seats and an XD auditorium, expected to open in fall 2015.
Mayor Rick Sollars said the theaters will be the newest members of, “An ever-expanding group of outstanding businesses in the Eureka Road area.”
Southland Center alone has reportedly added more than 120,000-square-feet of retail space with new tenants in the past 18 months.
Both theater chains promise state-of-the-art movie viewing. MJR will include the chain’s Studio Bar accommodations with beer and wine sales in the lobby. Cinemark’s XD auditorium features an oversize wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling screen.
Sollars said that recent projects along Eureka have included the under-construction OptimEyes and plans for new franchises of Party City, Lumber Liquidators, Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Rio Bravo and Panera Bread. Also, the recent news that the Gibraltar Trade Center will soon close was countered with announced plans by Menards to raze and develop the 80-plus acre site.
Taylor Economic Development Manager George Sutherland said the combined announcements indicate that the pendulum may have turned.
“When you see this type of development it has great economic impact and job creation,” Sutherland said in a statement. “These are big plusses for the city.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])