As part of a proposed multimillion-dollar expansion, legal filings indicate that Southgate Mall is partnering with Carmike Cinemas to launch a new movie theater that will offer beer and wine.
Carmike Cinemas plans to serve alcoholic beverages at a theater called “Ovation 9” at 2901 Brooks Street, the same location as Southgate Mall, according to an application filed on Oct. 1 with the Montana Department of Revenue. Carmike is purchasing the beer and wine license formerly owned by the Wilma, before the venue was sold to current owner Nick Checota in March.
The move is in line with previously announced plans for Southgate’s upcoming $70 million expansion, which includes a movie theater as part of its first phase.
Developer Peter Lambros, with Southgate Mall Associates, says in a time when many traditional malls are struggling the goal is to offer engaging experiences that will draw people—and their wallets—out of their homes.
“Everything in the industry right now is saying if you’re going to go out and spend money, it’s got to feel different,” he says. “A lot of people have a big screen TV at their house. So it’s got to feel special.”
Carmike Cinemas’ new line of “Ovation” theaters aim to provide “cinematic dining” while screening the latest blockbusters, according to a Carmike press release. The Ovation 12 opened in Athens, Ga., in July, offering amenities including a restaurant and full bar in the lobby, as well as built-in trays, lights and call buttons on theater seats allowing patrons to order from a server. Ovation 12 customers can also reserve seating online and pay for their concessions at the same time as their movie ticket.
Lambros declines to confirm that Carmike will be operating the new theater at Southgate, saying there’s more work to be done before any formal announcement. “It’s not official, but you can connect the dots,” he says. Carmike representatives did not return requests for comment.
Currently, the mall is asking for almost $7 million in city funds to develop a new public road and widen Mary Avenue to become a direct vehicle access between the mall and South Reserve Street. A Missoula City Council committee is still reviewing the request.
“Before we have conclusion to this process, really connecting with that neighborhood and finding common ground is really paramount,” Lambros says.
Lambros adds that construction on the first phase of the Southgate Mall’s redevelopment, including the new theater, would ideally begin in 2016.
The Montana Department of Revenue is currently accepting public comment on Carmike Cinemas’ application for a beer and wine license at Ovation 9. Public communications officer Mary Anne Dunwell says the comment period ends Nov. 30.