Rifle site ready for the big screen | PostIndependent.com

Rifle site ready for the big screen

Heidi Rice
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Dinner and a movie in a state-of-the-art, multiplex theatre may be available to Rifle residents as early as November.

Brenden Theatre Corp. has announced that it intends to build a seven- or eight-screen theater on the old Valley Lumber site on West Second Street in downtown Rifle.

The deal was put together between the Brenden Theatre Corp., the city of Rifle and the Rifle Economic Development Corp. and was unveiled at the Rifle City Council meeting Wednesday evening.

“The city of Rifle and the REDC have been partnering to find a catalyst for downtown revitalization for the past two years,” said assistant city manager Matt Sturgeon. “We believe Brenden Theatres will offer an anchor to attract additional development downtown, as well as help attract customers to existing retail and restaurants serving Rifle’s central business district.”

Brenden Theatre Corp. already operates seven theaters with more than 90 screens altogether in California, Nevada and Arizona. This would be the company’s first theater in Colorado.

Each theater features high-back stadium seats with lift-up arm rests for good sight lines and comfort, and giant wall-to-wall curved screens. The new Rifle theater will be equipped with Dolby digital sound systems, sound for the hearing impaired, and technology to show 3D movies, according to Brenden Theatre’s website.

The Valley Lumber site, owned by the city of Rifle, will be leased to Brenden Theatres for 10 years, with two five-year options to renew.

“They anticipate being there after 10 years, but they believe that after a certain number of years, Rifle will have a much bigger population and the theater won’t accommodate it,” Sturgeon said. “At the end of the lease, the theater building will be turned over to the city.”

Once the theater is in place, the search will be on for other retail shops and restaurants, along with office space, to be built on the site.

Existing stores in downtown Rifle will also benefit from the new theater.

“To have a theater as an anchor tenant will begin to drive other opportunities,” said Rifle Economic Development Corp. president Michael Langhorne. “This is more of an economic stimulus for downtown because it will bring people from all over the region to Rifle.”

Originally, plans for the Valley Lumber site also called for the construction of a 107,000 square-foot Health and Wellness Center. But officials recently determined that it would not be feasible to put the theater complex and the wellness center on the site because there wouldn’t be sufficient space for parking.

The REDC is still currently searching for a new site for the center, which is expected to be a full recreation facility that includes a number of amenities, including an indoor pool, weight room, running track and climbing wall.

Brenden Theatre Corp. will make a presentation to the Rifle City Council at the March 1 regular meeting. Both parties have until March 4 to cancel the contract.

But if all goes well, there will become another reason to visit downtown Rifle.

“They like to open their theaters just ahead of Thanksgiving,” Sturgeon said. “And that will immediately benefit all the existing restaurants and retailers.”

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