Despite council talk of a downtown multiplex theatre, Landmark is moving forward with their plans for an expansive complex in Eagle Ridge.
In a press release Tuesday morning, Centron Group officially announced Phase 1 of the Eagle Ridge Retail Centre. The 245,000 sq. ft. development will include 104,000 sq. ft. of storefront retail, “familiar” restaurant offerings, and the Landmark Cinema.
The development group says the retail centre will address “the current shortage of amenities” in the neighbourhood.
The multiplex theatre is set to offer 10 wall-to-wall screens, an expanded concessions area, and stadium seating for 1,100 people. The seats are set to feature Landmark’s new “Premium Power Recliner” seats.
“If you picture an auditorium of 150 La-Z-Boys,” said Landmark COO Bill Walker. “That’s what you can picture when you walk into the concept of what we’re looking to bring to Fort McMurray.”
There is no timeline on the project, as Centron is still in the permit application process. Walker suggested that the theatre could be ready within a year once construction starts.
The news does raise some questions as to the idea of developing a downtown theatre, which council approved in principle last month. Administration is currently in the process of gathering public feedback on what residents would like to see, though the theatre appeared to be the leading idea among councillors. The results of the public engagement are due back to council by June 7.
“Whatever’s ready first, we’re in,” Walker said. “We ultimately think that based on what Centron’s telling us today, [Eagle Ridge] will be ready first.”
The theatre executive added that there are challenges both economic and logistical in building a downtown theatre, while the population numbers in Timberlea support the Eagle Ridge development. However, he’s not closing the door to the possibility of building on the failed arena lands.
“We’re interested in talking to the city, if that were to come up and the Centron project were to fall apart,” he said. He quickly added that the scenario isn’t overly likely to occur.
As for the existing McMurray 6 theatre on Manning Avenue, Walker said they haven’t decided what they will do with it once Eagle Ridge is completed. Landmark Cinemas owns the building, giving the company time to weigh their options.
“It’s something we can operate quite efficiently,” Walker said. “So once that time starts to approach, we’ll see what the market and economy looks like in Fort McMurray and decide what makes sense for us downtown.”