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Council to consider next step with potential theater on Monday

WORTHINGTON -- After months of planning, the city is moving closer to an agreement that could bring a five-screen movie theatre to Worthington. In September, the city entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Minnetonka real estate de...

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WORTHINGTON - After months of planning, the city is moving closer to an agreement that could bring a five-screen movie theatre to Worthington.

  In September, the city entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Minnetonka real estate developer PBK Investments LLC for the purchase of a 1.1-acre parcel off of U.S. 59 and Bioscience Drive for the sum of $77,924.00.

  The city council will review its MOU with the developer during Monday’s Worthington City Council meeting. If the council approves of the site plans, it can move toward selling the property.

  Preliminary plans show the proposed building will house five screens, four of which have 50 seats and one with 99 - bringing the total to 299 seats. The 22-foot-tall building would also have a lobby, concession stand and two bathrooms.

  City council members have expressed concern that the site is too small for a movie theatre that would serve a city of more than 13,000 people. City Administrator Steve Robinson agreed it was a small site, which is why the city entered an MOU agreement with the developer before selling the parcel.

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  “It’s a borderline small site to accommodate a theatre,” Robinson said. “Because of that, we took steps to ensure it would work. Instead of outright selling it, we committed that the city would sell when the developer can show they can meet our requirements.”

  In meeting the terms of the MOU, PBK had to show it could create a site that meets zoning laws and codes, as well as city ordinances.

  Robinson’s biggest concern was meeting city parking requirements. A city ordinance states the theatre must have one off-street parking place per four movie theatre seats. With 299 seats, this means roughly 75 parking spots are required, a tough task with only 1.1 acres of room to work with. The current plans show a parking lot with just 68 spaces.

  “They had demonstrated all of MOU except for parking to accommodate the number of seats,” Robinson said.

However, the city ordinance allows for collective parking to accommodate a percentage of required parking - in this case, it would be 9 percent of the total parking, or seven parking spots. As they are both close to the proposed theatre site, the city is looking to create three-way collective agreement between the Worthington Event Center and the Comfort Suites hotel to allow theater customers to park in their parking lots. Robinson said Comfort Suites had agreed in principle to the parking easement.

  “As far as we’re concerned, if council agrees, they have met the terms of the MOU,” Robinson said.

  In October, the council amended a change to allow entertainment venues to be built on the parcel, which means PBK could start construction as soon as it’s ready.

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  “We’ve been working with PBK for quite some time,” Robinson said. “Personally, I’m quite excited about it moving forward. They’ve demonstrated they can meet zoning and other requirements … we got over hurdles that made this transition difficult.”

  

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