Calif. developer to build multiplex theater on Broadway, across from proposed IMAX

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comMarch 5, 2014 

A Los Angeles theater group will begin construction this summer on a multiplex theater at the corner of South Broadway and High Street.

The location is directly across the street from a proposed site for an IMAX theater that has yet to receive city approval.

George Krikorian, president of Krikorian Premier Theater, announced late Wednesday that the new complex will include two 70 foot-wide screens with Dolby sound systems that is comparable to an IMAX theater experience. It also will have nine additional movie screens, special VIP viewing rooms that can be hold up to 50 people and can be rented out for birthdays, corporate parties or private screenings.

Other amenities include a sports bar with a 90-foot-wide viewing screen for sporting and other special events and a 16-lane bowling alley.

Harold Tate of Urban Toolbox LLC is the project coordinator for the new cinema complex that is being designed by TK Architects of Kansas City, Mo.

Tate told the Herald-Leader Wednesday that the corner of South Broadway already has the appropriate zoning for a movie theater. The group does not need any OK from the city to move forward with the project.

"He builds very top-notch theaters," Tate said. "They become destinations."

Almost all of those theaters are downtown, infill development projects, he said.

Krikorian has seven theater complexes in southern California. The Lexington location will be the group's first movie theater outside of southern California.

"We are excited to create this incredible venue for the community and to have this opportunity to play a pivotal role in the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Lexington," Krikorian said.

Krikorian, an avid horse racing fan who has a Thoroughbred farm in Woodford County, has looked at trying to find a site in Lexington for several years. Last summer, Krikorian's plans for a downtown Lexington movie and entertainment complex on top of the Transit Center or behind the Kentucky Theatre hit a snag. At the time, Krikorian said he was in negotiations for an alternative site that he didn't identify. A proposed project met a similar fate in 2009 when Krikorian announced ShowProp, a $70 million development on Angliana Avenue with a 12-screen movie theater, a bowling alley, restaurants, retail stores, a grocery and 150 apartments. That project was scrapped because the adjoining railroad, which owned a piece of property that was a key to the development, agreed verbally to lease the land and never formalized the agreement, Krikorian has said.

There don't appear to be any hurdles this time.

"I've been coming to Lexington for a long time and had my farm here for a number for years," Krikorian said. "There are no theaters in downtown except for the Kentucky, but that is not a multiplex theater."

The location at High Street and Broadway is seen as ideal because of its proximity to Rupp Arena and the convention center and to the University of Kentucky. Tate said one of the reasons for including the bowling alley is that a survey of UK students showed they wanted access to bowling alleys.

The less-than-1-acre property is currently owned and managed by Langley Properties. Langley also owns the Central Bank garage adjacent to the property. Theatergoers will be able to use that garage on evenings and weekends when the garage is empty.

"This is a very innovative infill project for downtown and a great partnership with Langley Properties Company," said Robert Langley, owner and CEO of Langley properties.

Krikorian said the project will be multiple stories. The total cost of the project will be between $15 million and $18 million. Construction will begin in July. Final renderings won't be available for several months.

Krikorian said he hopes to open in summer 2015.

This is the second theater company to try to locate at the corner. Look Cinemas of Dallas has an option to lease land on the opposite corner. But to build its IMAX theater complex, it needs to get multiple approvals from the city's Board of Architectural Review. That corner is in a historic district. The group has also proposed moving an 1808 house on the property to make room for the complex.

The group has not made a formal application to the Board of Architectural Review. But members of the board told Look officials at an initial hearing last week that they had multiple concerns about the project.

Chris Westover, a lawyer who represents Look, was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Beth Musgrave: (859)231-3205. Twitter:@HLCityhall

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