Bill Warren broke ground Friday morning on the $7.2 million IMAX project at his 21st and Tyler theater.
The project, featuring a multistory IMAX screen, is scheduled to open Dec. 17 with Walt Disney's "Tron: Legacy" in IMAX 3D as the opening feature.
Also included is a complete renovation of the Warren West complex.
The founder of Warren Theatres also used the ceremony to blast critics of his partnership with the Wichita City Council on the project, dismissing them as people who have "never created a job."
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"We're going to have something that New York or L.A. or Dallas or no one has, and I think that's just a great deal," Warren said.
"There are a lot of things in this city that we do right, and I don't think we talk about that enough."
Warren officials estimate that the IMAX will draw 250,000 people annually to see first-run movies and educational films. An estimated 30 percent of that total will come from outside Wichita, officials said.
In return for the $16 million in industrial revenue bonds issued by the city, the company agreed to make escalating payments in lieu of taxes, beginning at a little more than $230,000 annually.
Devin Hansen, chairman of Go Wichita, the city's tourism arm, said the IMAX enhances the city's tourism efforts.
"It certainly adds to Wichita's prestige as a destination, and movie fans from across the region will be lining up to check out this latest technology," he said.
Vice Mayor Jeff Longwell also praised the project, calling it a growth driver for his district and all of Wichita.
"This opportunity that we're breaking ground on today provides... incentives and opportunities to create something special for not only west Wichita, but Wichita," he said.
Then Longwell took his own shot at critics of the city's partnership with Warren:
"I'm pleased that the deal we were able to craft is going to bring more jobs, more tax revenues and doesn't take a dime out of citizens' pockets," he said.
"I'm not sure that people fully understand yet that this wasn't a loan that the city backed. The city doesn't have any role or responsibility or obligations to pay off the debt.
"This is a developer who believes in Wichita, who wants to give back to his home community. So we're pretty excited about these kinds of opportunities and what it means for Wichitans."
"You have a lot of people who criticize this sort of stuff," he said. "But a lot of those people have never created a job, they've never built anything in their lives and, quite frankly, they just don't know what they're talking about."