Theater complex to open next year

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 18, 2003

After more than three years of negotiation it looks as though a much anticipated movie theater complex is indeed coming to Greenville. The movie theater will be located in what is now the existing Wal-Mart building located next to Winn-Dixie, just off Interstate 65.

While there are still details to be finalized, the current Wal-Mart will relocate to an area off Cahaba Road where it will become a Super Wal-Mart that will include a full selection of groceries and include nearly 100,000 more square feet of shopping space.

The theater complex will be owned and operated by Nova Cinetech, the country's 35th largest chain of movie theaters that specializes in small markets.

Email newsletter signup

"We operate in seven states and have more than 100 screens," said Nova Cinetech's President and Chief Operating Officer Buck Kolkmeyer. "Because the Wal-Mart building is bigger than we need for just the movie theater we're going to make this an entertainment destination that will include laser tag and video games."

Kolkmeyer, who has been in the movie business since 1973, said there will also be rooms that can be rented out for birthday parties with "basket food" including pizza and hot dogs as well as other refreshments.

The theater complex will house five movie screens that will show first-run movies with digital sound. Moviegoers will also be able to relax in the latest theater seating, with flip up arms and cup holders on every seat.

"All the seats will be in the sweet spot of the theater," said Kolkmeyer. "Every seat will be the best seat in the house."

The total seating capacity of all the theater's combined will be close to 700, and Kolkmeyer said he expects more than 20 people to be employed at the complex.

Michael Hoffman, president of Southeast Capital Investments, Inc., a company specializing in developing shopping, entertainment and office complexes, has been working with Kolkmeyer, Wal-Mart and the city of Greenville to help bring the project to fruition.

"This is something that's been in the works for a long time," Hoffman said. "This is a complicated transaction since we have to buy land, build a road, build a new $20 million Wal-Mart and invest $1.5 million in retrofitting the old Wal-Mart building. And we have to do that while insuring all the parties involved are happy and satisfied with the results."

Hoffman said each of the two projects goes hand-in-hand and if something happens to delay Wal-Mart's move, the theater complex will be delayed as well.

"While we agree in principle all these things are going to happen, the details haven't been finalized," Hoffman stressed. "But we do have high hopes."

If all goes as planned, Hoffman said the details should be finalized by the end of March with ground being broken for the new Wal-Mart by September.

Local Wal-Mart store manager Joe Massanelli said he couldn't really comment, but does anticipate that a Super Wal-Mart will be a reality.

"The only thing I've been told is that Wal-Mart has always thought of putting a super center here," he said. "But it's been speeded up because someone has expressed interest in putting something in this building. But as far as when, I don't know."

While Kolkmeyer said he would like to open his entertainment complex next week, he expects it will be early summer 2004 before the big screens light up.

"This will be one of our smaller markets, but the potential for growth here is great," he said. "And there's no movie theaters like this anywhere between Montgomery and Mobile."

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said having a movie theater in Greenville is like a dream come true.

"Two years ago when I ran for mayor I told everybody that I was going to try to get a move theater here and that's what I'm doing," he said. "It's a quality of life thing. We need something for our kids to do and something for our kids to do and not have to drive to Montgomery."

Both Hoffman and Kolkmeyer agreed that had it not been for McLendon's persistence, the prospect of having a movie complex in Greenville would have been small.

"Without the mayor's positive attitude and persistence, this project would not have happened," Hoffman said. "He was the engine that made this happen."