Downtown movie theater project receives extension


Jackson Entertainment, an offshoot of the Celebration! Cinema group, is still working to make its proposed downtown movie theater project a reality.

The project at the corner of Oakes and Ionia SW was granted a six-month extension by the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority, or DDA, last week.

Option on property

In April 2012, the DDA approved a two-year option for the project’s property known as Parking Area 5 in the Arena South area for $50,000. Jackson Entertainment later paid an additional $50,000 to extend that option for a third year.

Several issues have hindered progress on the project, particularly parking concerns, so the DDA decided last week to grant the six-month extension to give the project a final shot at getting off the ground.

Jackson Entertainment now has six months to finalize the project's plans.

“Basically, we want to do everything we can to help the vision of the movie theater project come to fruition,” said Kris Larson, president and CEO, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Theaters and more

Currently, there are few details of the project available.

What is known is that it will likely be more than a movie theater.

“I think the developer is interested in a more comprehensive mixed-use entertainment center, rather than just a stand-alone movie theater,” Larson said. “The DDA would share in that interest.”

Parking issue

Larson explained that parking has become a big issue in the Arena South area since Jackson Entertainment signed its first option agreement. A couple of big changes were the approval of the Arena South Visioning plan and the sale of Parking Area 1 for the Arena Place project, currently underway.

“We’ve been working to determine the feasibility of doing underground parking on the site and also working to balance the need for parking transition strategies in the Arena South area,” Larson said. “Those have created some short-term obstacles that have impeded us to move forward with the project as quickly as I think everyone hopes.”

Larson said the underground parking feasibility study that was conducted on Parking Area 4 and 5 recently showed up to 1,200 parking spaces could be accommodated, but he noted that is far more than would likely be needed for the proposed project.

Pamela Ritsema, managing director of Enterprise Services at the City of Grand Rapids, said preliminary discussions have taken place regarding parking needs, which have included talks of between 300-400 parking spaces, but the recommendation phase is still further out.

“Discussion will be ongoing, and we’re working to incorporate their needs into the overall development, parking and mobility solutions for the Arena South area,” Ritsema said.

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