Midwest City residents may soon not have to leave town to go the movies.
In fact, it could be quite the opposite.
Warren Theatres LLC is considering building a 10-screen theater that would anchor a development near SE 15th Street and Sooner Road. The proposed 70,000-square-foot theater would be the first of a new concept that is “smaller but more luxurious,” said Bill Warren, theater owner.
The theater would be part of the Sooner Rose Shopping Center development that will include several restaurants, retail space and an entertainment venue. Hobby Lobby and Academy Sports and Outdoor anchor the first of the three-phase development. Warren Theatres would like to open in summer 2018.
The proposed Midwest City theater would offer a high end experience for movie goers. All of the theaters will feature spacious seating with double arm rests with heated seats as well as high-quality audio and video systems. Four of the auditorium screens will include a balcony or mezzanine level for guests who are 21 or older. The balcony will include alcoholic beverages and food service.
The interior of the theater will be different than the Moore location, which has 21 screens. Midwest City would not have an IMAX screen, a game room or restaurant on the first floor. An enhanced concession will serve food items on the first floor. The building would feature Warren’s trademark grand entrance and two-story lobby. The theater would also include a 12-14 foot berm that would serve as a buffer to the residential north of the property.
“You give them more than they anticipate and they will talk about it,” Warren said.
Warren believes the theater will serve as a draw throughout the metro. He said less than 10 percent of the customers at the Moore theater are from Midwest City.
“All theaters tend to show the same movies, so I need to build a better mouse trap. I have to give you better service and I have to give you better value for your money,” Warren said.
Theater representatives said they plan to hire local residents and contract with local companies for services.
The movie theater would anchor the second phase of the Sooner Rose Shopping Center, which has been developed by Sooner Investment LLC. A third phase would include an entertainment center and additional retail. It would be located between Buena Vista Ave. and Crosby Blvd.
Sooner Investment would not disclose which restaurants would be built as part of the development, but said Warren Theatres is a major draw.
Midwest City is working on an incentive and financing package to spur the development. The plans included about $20 million in public funds and property for phase two of the development.
The city plans to provide $11 million for the theater with $6 million in land contribution and $5 million in construction costs. Sooner Investment would receive $5 million for development expenses, infrastructure and land contribution. The city is proposing a tax incremental financing or “TIF” district. The loan would be paid through ad valorum and sales and use tax revenue.
The proposed TIF District is currently producing $100,000 in ad valorum taxes. Robert Coleman, economic development director expects that number to grow to about $1 million when the development is completed.
“There is no way we could do one or the other, it has to be both,” Coleman said. “And we’ll take all of the use taxes collected that we can prove were delivered to the site.”
The Midwest City Memorial Hospital Authority, a public trust, would contribute $2.4 million and property valued at $1.3 million.
Coleman said there are several steps before the development becomes a reality. The city and representatives from Warren Theatres and Sooner Investment presented the project to the Local Development Act Review Committee, which includes representatives from local taxing entities and the community. The committee needs to recommend project plan and approve a resolution of findings relative to the TIF district. The city must also rezone property and meet with neighborhoods.
“There is a lot of stuff that has to happen,” Coleman said.
Midwest City officials, developers and Warren Theatres representatives have been working on the project for several months. The group made a formal presentation Monday during a meeting with the Local Development Act Review Committee. The committee will meet again Thursday to further discus the creation of TIF District, which city leaders say is necessary for the project to progress.
Mayor Matt Dukes said the development is a game changer that will serve a major need in the community. Councilman Pat Byrne said it’s been difficult to keep the project under wraps.
“Something like this is not going to come around very often,” Bryne said the meeting.
The company operates theaters in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.