Construction will begin next week on Bill Warren's IMAX expansion at 21st and Tyler, with a mid-December opening date.
A formal groundbreaking ceremony has been set for 10 a.m. June 4 for the $7.2 million project, which includes construction of a 600-seat IMAX theater and an upgrade of the facility's 17 auditoriums.
Warren said this week he plans to stick to an ambitious six-month construction schedule, with a grand opening tentatively scheduled for Dec. 17.
"We're going to be open for the Christmas movie season," Warren said. "Six months is a tight schedule, but I'm confident that Key can do it."
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Project contractor is Key Construction of Wichita. Project architect is Spangenberg Phillips Tice Architecture, also of Wichita.
The Wichita City Council last month approved a $16 million industrial revenue bond issue for the project. The remaining $8.8 million of the Wichita bond issue will be used to refinance existing loans on the theater at 21st and Tyler.
The IMAX theater, with ticket prices $3 to $5 above Warren's digital theaters, is the centerpiece of the 21st and Tyler plan.
IMAX is a trademark for a large-format movie and motion-simulation entertainment center, with screens up to 10 times larger than a conventional movie screen.
However, Warren also plans to update the other auditoriums in the 14-year-old theater, part of a system-wide capital improvement program.
Warren said he's also considering an expansion of the company's 14-screen Moore, Okla., theater, which has consistently exceeded financial expectations since it opened in April 2008.
The Wichita IRB issue does not directly convey taxpayer money to the project. The city will issue bonds that will be purchased by Intrust Bank, according to city documents.
In addition, Warren has agreed to make payments in lieu of taxes based on the assessed valuation of the project: $236,389 in the first year, with annual 2.3 percent increases.