August 16, 2013

Cinema construction in slow motion

Theater opening gets pushed back again

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune

---- — The opening for the new movie theater in Logansport has been pushed back yet again, continuing a trend the general manager says is forcing him to do away with setting deadlines for the time being.

“I’m not going to set any deadlines going forward on anything,” said Richard Diffenbach, general manager of Mary Max Cinemas 5. “It’s counterproductive. We’re working toward getting the theater completed and it’s just counterproductive to try to artificially set some target, get people’s hopes up and then have to reset things.”

The five-screen theater currently being built between High Street and Lexington Road was last expected to open this month. Before that, the theater company’s owner, Bill Hawes, said he expected it to open as soon as employee training was completed, which he projected to be by the end of March at the earliest.

Diffenbach said workers have painted the exterior of the building and have started to grade the parking lot. Interior framing is currently underway, with electrical work, plumbing and drywall to follow. Work on the theater’s entrance will begin in the near future, he added.

“Things are progressing inside and outside and we’ll get her open as soon as we possibly can,” he said.

When visiting the construction site Monday, he said framing and electrical work was being done.

“It’s not like there are thousands of workers,” he said. “There were probably about 12 to 14 people in the building [Monday]. The main takeaway point here is things have not stopped. Things may be proceeding slower than what I or any of our potential customers will like, but things are continuing to move forward and we’ll get the building open and we’ll have an extremely nice movie-going experience once the facility does open.”

The theater’s projection and sound equipment are due to ship out toward the third or fourth week in August, he continued.

“That’s also part of the reason we’re getting the building buttoned up with doors in front, so we can have security on that,” he said.

Construction on the 16,000-square-foot theater began this winter and is expected to cost about $4 million, $250,000 of which will come from one of the city’s tax increment financing, or TIF, funds.

Part of this $250,000 is $25,000 in administrative fees that the city is currently making interest payments on.

Bob Bishop, president of the Logansport Redevelopment Commission, which oversees the city’s tax increment financing funds, said he has looked into proposing paying off this $25,000, but thinks the theater company, Logansport Theater LLC, may be responsible for it.

“I’ve got to get that clarified,” he said. “I don’t want to pay it off if it’s not our debt.”

Either way, the remaining $225,000 in TIF funds won’t go to Logansport Theater until the multiplex opens, as specified in the city’s economic development agreement with the company.

The hiring deadline in the agreement had to be extended earlier this spring after the company had yet to hire its staff by the date that was agreed upon.

Bishop thinks the continued construction delays may force extensions on other deadlines that would have to be approved by the redevelopment commission and city council.

“We’ll have to deal with that when the time gets here,” he said. “We’ll have to do another economic development agreement one way or another I think. It depends on the board. Then it will have to go through the council.”

Bishop went on to say he thinks it may be possible the company could lose part of the $225,000 incentive.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do at this point as far as their incentive goes,” he said. “They may lose some of it. They could lose it all. It’s not going to be an issue until they actually want the check.”

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or