Nelson Stone and his massive excavator began nibbling away at the old Bank of the West building at Lakin and Kansas Thursday as if it were a box of Junior Mints. The razing is in preparation for the new, six-screen movie theater that will eventually occupy that corner.
If all goes well, movies will be shown in the downtown Great Bend Cinema Six by next spring as the facility draws crowds to the business district, said Dennis Call, owner of Benefit Management Inc. and one of the project developers. Demolition of the old bank should be done by mid August, paving the way for theater construction to begin.
Call said in addition to tearing down the old bank, Stone is preparing the site for the new structure. This will involve some fill and other work.
Then, Weins Construction out of Hutchinson will take over. Call hopes to have them begin work by September.
“We may be cutting it close,” Call said. “But I think we have a shot at May 1” for the movie house to open.
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.”
Employees at the new Bank of the West are settling into their new, more compact location at the corner just south of the cinema site. It is now up and running.