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Movie theater plan advances

A new movie theater is being proposed for former Countryside Center site Routes 34 47 Yorkville.

A new movie theater is being proposed for the former Countryside Center site at Routes 34 and 47 in Yorkville.

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Updated: November 30, 2012 6:06AM

YORKVILLE – Aldermen have approved a concept plan for a 37,500-square-foot movie theater and adjacent lots, with a developer agreement that has more than $2 million in incentives.

The theater, to be built by Neighborhood Cinema Group of Owasso, Mich., will have 10 screens and seating for 1,900 moviegoers at Routes 34 and 47.

It will be on the site of the former Countryside Shopping Center, which will now be known as Kendall Crossing.

Aldermen first got a glimpse of the concept plan for the theater and three outlots two weeks ago, and enthusiastically approved it this week.

The Countryside Shopping Center operated as sort of the heart of the community for 33 years – it housed a movie theater that was packed almost every weekend, and had such traditions as the beginning of the homecoming parade and march to the bonfire each year.

The buildings were torn down in 2005 as part of a previous agreement with a developer who was going to bring in a big box tenant. But that never materialized because of the recession.

Developer Jim Ratos, who lives in the adjoining Countryside subdivision, said he would drive by the empty lots and deteriorating parking lots every day and think that something should be done. His development now will take 18.5 acres of the former shopping center.

City officials had been seeking a developer for the property since 2008, but had problems because of restrictions denoting what can be put on the property and how it should be developed. Earlier this year, city officials decided to relax those restrictions, and several developers, including Ratos, began showing interest.

Under the agreement approved this week, the city would agree to pay $2 million from a fund developed from the tax increment financing district currently on the property.

The money would go to the developer the day the theater opens for business, estimated to be in November 2013.

The city also would allow the developer access to the 1 percent business district tax on the property, which is for infrastructure and other costs within the district.

Bart Olson, city administrator, said the long-term effect of the new theater, and development of the outlots on the site, most likely with restaurants, will be “a financial benefit” to the city.

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