Cinemark has a year to determine if it will build a new movie theater in Greenville, but that might not be enough time for the troubled entertainment industry.
Hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, the developer behind a proposed entertainment and commercial project, situated along Sayle Street and the Interstate 30 frontage road, asked the Greenville City Council for a one-year extension to determine if Cinemark could right itself financially.
While the City Council unanimously granted the extension on Tuesday night, there was plenty of discussion about the future of the project, especially considering the precarious position that many move theater operators find themselves in since the coronavirus pandemic has devastated their businesses.
Part of the reason for the extension is that the city has promised to reimburse the developer of the project — the Dallas-based Stainback Organization — more than $4 million in costs for roads and utilities. The mixed-use development, which was expected to including higher-end apartments, was slated to start May 1 but Cinemark was the major tenant.
If developed, Stainback Organization envisions the “Kari Beth Crossing” development completing its work from its existing development, which includes Academy Sports, Hobby Lobby and Lowes, all the way to Monty Stratton Parkway. The extension gives Stainback some flexibility to see if Cinemark will extricate itself from the confines of the pandemic.
At least two speakers said the movie theater was unnecessary or unlikely to come to fruition because of consumer changes in how they view movies. That reality has already hit the movie industry hard in the wake of the pandemic. Many of the top movies of 2021 are being streamed online along with a simultaneous opening in theaters. The result has been mixed at best.
Cinemark has been able to stave off bankruptcy but others haven’t been as fortunate. AMC and Alamo Drafthouse — both of which operate theaters in Texas — have both filed for bankruptcy. Cinemark’s stock has been trading as low as $7 a share — down from more than $30 before the pandemic.
In other business, the City Council unanimously approved a plan to spend more than $2 million in upgrades at Majors Airport, where the city will improve the area where planes park and a runway. The City Council also unanimously approved the purchase of a drug-sniffing K-9 unit for the Greenville Police Department.