If all goes well, movies will be shown in the new downtown Great Bend Cinema Six by next May as the facility draws thousands to the business district.
“We’re on schedule,” said Dennis Call, owner of Benefit Management Inc. and one of the project developers. “We’re excited about it.”
The new Bank of the West location at 11th and Kansas streets should be completed by mid June. Demolition of the old bank building down the street at Lakin and Kansas should be done by mid August, paving the way for theater construction to begin.
“We’re about 13 months out,” Call said.
For the purposes of operating the six-screen theater, Call and company are associated with B&B Theaters, based out of Salisbury, Mo., a major player in smaller market Midwestern movie houses. The company is consulting on the Great Bend effort and offers brokers who pick films.
B&B is working with the local theater owners at their current Village Cinema location as well.
Call said he expects the complex to bring 100,000 people downtown in a year. “That’s a lot of traffic.”
This will change the dynamic. Businesses could see a lot more customers as movie goers wander the sidewalks.
As for the bank, “we should be open by June 16,” said Sara Seller, Bank of the West vice president. They are looking forward to the move.
“It will be compact,” Seller said. But, “it will be very user friendly.”
In addition, she said customers will see very little change. “We will have the same hours and same staff.” There will also be two drive-through lanes and safety deposit boxes.
The theater was also a topic at the Great Bend City Council meeting Monday night.
According to the city ordinance that falls under the parking and loading regulations, “places of public assembly including auditoriums and theaters” require one off-street parking place for every four seats. The new cinema will have 640 seats, thus needing 166 spaces.
However, there will be 35 spots around the complex after the demolition of the old bank building, and construction of the theater and new bank. The other 131 would have to be along the streets adjoining the theater and in the surrounding public parking lots, all of which would be with a block or a block and a half of the cinema.
The regulations allow for the city council to waive the parking requirements. “In order to issue a building permit, we need to take action on this,” city Building Inspector Lee Schneider said.
Call said he said he doubts all 166 spaces would ever be used. “The chances of filling that thing (the theater) up would be slim to none.”
He is also looking to have areas along Kansas Avenue on the west side of the new cinema and along Lakin to the north be reserved as drop-off and pick-up areas for patron.
The issue will be brought up for action at the next City Council meeting May 7. At this time, there will also be a public hearing on the matter.