The Norman Transcript

March 8, 2011

IMAX theater to open this year in Moore

By Andrew Knittle
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The Moore City Council approved a sales tax rebate agreement Monday night that’ll pave the way for a 600-seat IMAX theater to be built on the north side of the massive Warren Theatre.

The council voted unanimously to approve the agreement, which will provide up to $2 million in sales tax rebates to Oklahoma Warren Theatres LLC, the operator of the Warren Theatre.

Deidre Ebrey, director of economic development for Moore, said the rebate was essential to turn the prospect of landing an IMAX theater into a reality for the city.

“If we don’t approve this, Warren Theatres cannot afford to do it,” Ebrey said of the rebate agreement.

Ebrey said the new development will include two luxury suites with a combined 76 seats and a “full-service, fine-dining restaurant.”

The restaurant, which she said “won’t replicate what we already have” in the city, already has at least two companies interested.

“They’re lining up,” Ebrey said. “We do have lots of options.”

The restaurant, luxury suites and IMAX theater will open in 2011, she said, adding that no other IMAX theater can be built within a 20-mile radius (an area that includes Norman).

In addition to the IMAX theater, Ebrey said Super Target, Five Guys Burgers, Schlotzsky’s and Cinnabon will all open this year. A similar sales tax rebate was used to land Super Target last year, when the retail giant was doing very little expansion due to the economy.

“2011 is going to be a banner year,” Councilman David Roberts said.

City to assist with new playground

The council also approved an agreement with AMBUCS of Oklahoma City to aid in the construction of a “universal access handicap playground” at Buck Thomas Park in Moore.

According to the council discussion, the idea for the park came from members of the 2008 Leadership Class of the Moore Chamber of Commerce, who — in turn — sought the assistance of AMBUCS to gather funding as a nonprofit.

The park will be designed specifically for children with disabilities. A representative from AMBUCS said the original group who fostered the concept will remain involved in the project.

“This is something we’re all excited about,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said. “It should be a great project.”

Andrew Knittle 366-3540