Last week, Carmike Cinemas Inc. announced their plans to build a new movie theater in Opelika at the intersection of Exit 58 of Interstate 85 and Highway 280 across the interstate from Tiger Town.
“We expect it to be another jewel in the crown that is Opelika,” said Al Cook, director of Economic Development in Opelika.
The future site of the cinema is in the Capps Landing development, which currently holds a Hampton Inn and a Holiday Inn Express. The site is owned and developed by Steve Benson, the President of Blackrock, LLC.
“It just made sense to do the location, the timing, everything,” Benson said. “It’s going to be a great addition to the Capps Landing development.”
Benson said he has a lot planned for the theater.
“It will be completely state of the art,” Benson said. “There will be 2600 seats for 12 screens including three screens formatted for 3D movies.”
Cook said Opelika city officials are excited about the economic and communal benefits of the new theater.
“It’s something we don’t have in Opelika,” Cook said. “It will benefit both our residents and the students of Auburn University.”
Jerry Kelley, director of planning for Opelika, said he thinks the new development will help motivate other businesses to come to the area.
“It will definitely spur more economic development opportunities,” Kelley said.
Cook echoed Kelley’s hopes of Carmike Cinemas attracting more business around Tiger Town.
“I think it will be a catalyst,” Cook said. “It will create activity further from Tiger Town which will attract more people and more importantly, more businesses, to the area.”
The process of bringing Carmike Cinemas to Opelika moved quite rapidly, said Cook.
“Steve approached us not too long ago, no more than six weeks ago,” said Cook. “And now here we are.”
Before any bricks are laid or marquees light up, Blackrock, LLC must first have their building plan approved by the Opelika Planning Commission and the Opelika City Council.
“We expect all of that to go fine,” said Kelley. “We are just waiting on them to get the plans in.”
Construction on the seven-acre project is expected to begin in December of this year and the theater should open by November 2010, Benson said.
“We’re definitely happy to have their business,” said Cook. “It’s something to be excited about. This is one jewel in Opelika’s crown that will shimmer for some time to come.”