KINGSPORT — The developers behind the Marquee Cinemas theater project are looking to purchase the old YMCA property within the next six weeks and start construction soon after, officials involved in the deal said last week.
Marquee Cinemas moved out of the Kingsport Town Center location back in February and has been planning for more than a year to build a new, freestanding theater behind the Kmart Super Center off Stone Drive. The property is currently owned by the YMCA and was once planned to be the site of its new wellness facility.
Marquee Cinemas has partnered with Bristol, Tenn.-based KBM Commercial Properties LLC and Jessie Hensley of Tr-City Grading Inc., to build the new theater.
Marquee’s plans call for a 43,000-square-foot facility with 12 theaters, a party room, arcade, concession and box office area and a centralized entrance. The smallest theater would be around 115 seats with the largest in the 285-seat range; four theaters would be 3-D, several screens will be 50 to 55 feet wide with the big format screen being 60 feet wide and 35 feet tall.
Charlie Glass, executive director of the Greater Kingsport Area YMCA, said the property is under contract, but the closing has not taken place.
“Hopefully, we’ll be closing soon,” Glass said.
Hensley said the contract is up in early August and the developers are looking to purchase the property between now and then.
Kingsport’s engineering and building departments have approved the plans for the project and a pre-construction meeting has been held and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has confirmed the wetlands mitigation work has been completed.
The building department has asked for an affidavit from the YMCA granting the developers permission to begin construction, since the YMCA still owns the property.
“We’re going to close (on the property) and pick up our building permit,” Hensley said, indicating the affidavit would then not be needed.
Tri-City Grading has equipment on site and some preliminary work has been done on the property, but additional site work needs to be completed before construction can begin.
“The weather has been horrible and that’s been the biggest factor (for the delay),” Hensley said. “Every wet day we have, we need two dry days. We have done some site work during the two weeks of dry days we had, but then we had three weeks of wet weather.
Hensley said he needs about three weeks of dry weather to get the site ready for the footers to be poured.
“We’ve never been this bad when it comes to delays,” he said.