After months of delays, a Los Angeles cinema group on Tuesday unveiled plans and renderings of a downtown 12-screen movie theater that will include Kentucky's largest movie screen, a sports bar, bowling alley and laser tag.
The Krikorian Premiere Theatre at South Broadway and West High Street will have a 100-foot-wide screen — thought to be the largest in Kentucky. That screen is slated to play movies in a format similar to IMAX.
Harold Tate of Urban Toolbox LLC is project coordinator for the cinema complex near Rupp Arena.
He said developers hope to start construction by late summer and open in late summer or early fall 2016. The project was announced in March 2014, with construction originally set to begin that summer.
The date got pushed back several times because of problems getting all of the leases signed. The 9,000-square-foot, two-story cinema will be built in front of the parking garage that faces High Street.
George Krikorian, president of Krikorian Premiere Theatres, has a horse farm in Versailles and is a regular visitor to Lexington.
"I believe Lexington is an ideal spot for our first venture in Kentucky," he said in a written release Tuesday. Krikorian operates 60 screens in the Los Angeles area.
Tate said Krikorian, who was attending a conference in Las Vegas and was not available for comment Tuesday, always wanted the project to be downtown. The Kentucky Theatre, which has two screens, currently is the only downtown cinema.
Downtown and the north side of Lexington are an under-served, theater-going population, Tate said.
"There is so much excitement downtown," he said. "It's an ideal location. It's near the Hyatt and the Hilton. All they have to do is walk across the street."
It's also close to the University of Kentucky campus, where new dorms are being built within walking distance.
The complex will be connected to a parking garage so people will not have to fret about finding a place to park. The first floor of the garage will be remodeled for the complex's laser tag course and for party rooms for birthdays and other events.
The entire complex will be a first for Kentucky, Tate said. "It's a top-notch cinema."
The two parcels for the project have the appropriate zoning for a theater. But Tate said Krikorian would have to go to Frankfort to get a waiver because of state rules regarding building on two parcels.
The group does not plan to ask for financial incentives to build the complex, he said.
Some key details of the proposed complex include:
■ A 16-lane luxury bowling center.
■ A 200-seat, open-style sports bar and bistro with a 70-foot-wide events screen.
■ A full-service restaurant and in-seat dining services for the 12 cinemas.
■ A gourmet food court featuring wood-fire pizzas, a sausage grill, a coffee bar and speciality pastries and desserts.
■ All 12 screens with have stadium auditoriums outfitted with fully reclining leather seats.