The closed Victorian Square Cinema in Sparks is literally getting a new lease on life, perhaps as early as this summer.
The Sparks City Council, Syufy Enterprises and Galaxy Theatres agreed on a deal Monday that would renovate the Victorian Square Cinema and reopen the facility sometime this year.
The remodeled theater will consist of 14 theaters and emulate Galaxy’s luxury approach at The Outlets at Sparks, formerly known as the Legends at Sparks Marina, said Frank Rimkus, Galaxy CEO. The Victorian Square location will also allow the company to have more flexibility with its programming, which is being limited by strong demand at the Galaxy Sparks theater.
“We have not been able to really do our programming that we would like to do (due to heavy demand),” Rimkus said by phone on Monday afternoon. “With the new expanded theater … this allows us to play more movies and allows our guests to have a better schedule as far as when to see movies.”
Having increased scheduling flexibility will also allow Galaxy to do more community outreach such as civic events and working with schools, Rimkus added.
As part of the deal, the City of Sparks agreed to provide $1.5 million in funding for the renovation. Of that amount, $1 million will be due up front and the rest in $100,000 increments in the next five years provided that the theater stays open. Syufy owns the property, which it will be leasing to Galaxy. The deal involves a lease term of at least 10 years.
The funding will not be taken from the city’s general fund, said Adam Mayberry, City of Sparks spokesman. Instead, it will be taken from funding acquired through hotel room taxes and earmarked for capital improvements and tourism purposes for the city redevelopment district, specifically Victorian Square, Mayberry said.
“We are not taking money away that will be used to provide for public safety and operations for the city,” Mayberry said. “Essentially, the visitors staying in hotel rooms in Sparks are paying for it.”
Syufy and Galaxy will also invest money into the project, which involves a significant remodeling of the former Century Sparks theater. The combined investment from both based on the approved deal must be at least $6.1 million. Mayberry is hoping for a summer opening but that hinges on how smoothly construction goes. The theater was operating for nearly two decades before closing in September last year.
“We will be working as hard as we can to get it open as soon as we can sometime this year,” Rimkus said. “It’s a major undertaking — we’re replacing all the seats, all the projectors … and that takes time.”
The Victorian Location also will not have IMAX theaters. Licensing agreements with IMAX limit the number of theaters that can be built within a certain distance of each other. The new location, however, will feature large-format digital screens just like the Legends location.
The arrival of Galaxy at Victorian Square should be a big boost to a location that the city has been trying to promote heavily, especially given the negative impact inflicted by the recession. After the theater closed last year, Spark’s biggest concern was for the property to languish and stay closed for a long time, particularly given the challenges that Victorian Square has seen, Mayberry said.
“We have been struggling to develop that area for the last 12 years,” Mayberry said.
With the arrival of projects such as Silverwing Development’s Fountainhouse Apartments combined with long-time anchors such as The Nugget, however, things are finally looking up for downtown Sparks, according to Mayberry. Add Galaxy’s new luxury theater and Victorian Square might finally get the momentum city officials have been hoping for.
“We can’t wait to see the benefits Galaxy will bring to the Victorian Square Cinema,” said Sparks Mayor Geno Martini in a written statement.