Woodstock Theatre asks for TIF money for expansion
Owners of the Woodstock Theatre are asking for financial assistance to help move its expansion project forward.
Classic Cinemas, which owns the facility, is asking the city to pay the costs for necessary public right-of-way construction as well as for purchasing and taking ownership of the pedestrian walkway created by the expansion. The costs would be $176,755 and $219,749, respectively.
“We have been working for a number of years on a way to expand the Woodstock Theatre to keep pace with the amount of films that are offered and the desires or interests of the Woodstock area residents,” wrote Willis Johnson, president of Classic Cinemas, in a memo to the Woodstock City Council. “The challenge for us has been the investment versus [the return on investment].”
In 2008, Classic Cinemas presented a plan to renovate the current theater space as well as construct new space north of the theater. The company purchased the city-owned Main Street parking lot, as well as three additional properties, 223, 225 and 229 Main St. The plan included demolishing the three properties and constructing a two-way pedestrian walkway between Main Street and the existing Throop Street parking lot. The plan also provided for interior reconfiguration and expansion that would double the number of screens to eight. Reconfiguration of the ticketing, lobby, concession and bathroom areas was also included in the plan.
In August 2010, Johnson said Classic Cinemas received a low bid of about $4.38 million to complete the construction. Another $1.5 million would be needed for furniture, fixtures and equipment.
“Based on these numbers, the project did not justify the investment,” Johnson said in the memo.
A new company, G2 Builders, emerged with an unsolicited bid of about $3.29 million, more than a million dollars below the previous low bid.
“We ultimately had them bid an addition to our York Theatre in Elmhurst and the pricing range was similar to what we had experienced in their Woodstock bid,” Johnson said. “We engaged them for the York and they came in on time and on budget and the job was very satisfactory.”
Should the City Council approve the financial assistance — using tax increment financing district dollars — and the project moves forward, the total investment from Classic Cinemas is projected to be $4,793,215, less the $396,504 in city costs. The numbers do not include land purchases or recent upgrades to digital projection at the current theater. Completed design and engineering also is not included.
The City Council was scheduled to discuss the request at its July 17 meeting – after The Independent’s press time. No vote was expected to take place at the meeting. A full report will appear in the July 25 to Aug. 1 edition of The Independent.