WORTHINGTON — People may begin viewing movies at a movie theater in Worthington as soon as spring/summer 2020.

At its Monday meeting, the Worthington City Council unanimously approved both a construction contract for a 19,527-square-foot, 376-person capacity entertainment spec building and an operator’s lease with Todd Frager of The Movie Guy, Inc. Completion is intended by April 15, 2020.

“This will be the last summer that Worthington doesn’t have movies playing in its town,” Frager said. “I think that it’ll be such a special place for the small towns that other towns will be envious of Worthington, for the theater we’re going to have here. That’s what you’ve done and I appreciate the opportunity.”

Under the terms of the lease agreement, Frager will rent the city-owned facility at a base rate of $5,000 per month, or $60,000 annually. In addition to the base rent, Frager will pay 5% of the total net admission revenue when it exceeds $450,000 during a one-year period.

The construction contract was awarded to Tri-State General Contracting of Jackson. Tri-State’s bid of $3,795,000 was the lowest of four submitted bids.

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The pre-engineered steel building with five theaters will be located on property the city recently purchased along Interstate 90 near North Grand Avenue and Darling Drive. The city purchased 11.36 acres from Kelly Properties of Worthington, Inc. at a price of $364,200.

That location did spur discussion and opposing views by members of both the Worthington Planning Commission and city council.

During its May 7 meeting, the planning commission voted to recommend the city council not approve changing the medium-density residential zone to a general business zone. The theater will be located near Willow Court Townhomes.

The city council, however, unanimously voted to rezone the property. Plans to extend Cecilee Street to connect with Grand Avenue would address traffic safety while bringing additional residential space, Mayor Mike Kuhle said at a May city council meeting.

Funding for the entertainment spec building is slated to come from the city's fund containing proceeds from the sale of the Worthington Regional Hospital. As of May 31, that fund had total assets of approximately $12.7 million.