Hip Alamo Drafthouse Cinema looks for Midtown action

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Richardson, Texas. The company is looking to open a new location in Detroit's Midtown.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the developers of two Midtown projects.

A hip new movie theater is looking to enter Midtown.

Detroit Rising Development LLC said Wednesday it plans to construct a 44,000-square-foot building for a nine-screen movie theater. The complex would be run by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Midtown Detroit on three vacant lots on Stimson between Cass and Woodward. Alamo is looking to open in early 2020.

Multi-screen movie theaters are scarce in Detroit. There’s one: the Bel Air 10 on Eight Mile Road. Troy-based Emagine Entertainment Inc. and Detroit-born rapper Sean “Big Sean” Anderson announced earlier this year they are working on bringing a new movie theater and music venue somewhere downtown to also open in 2020.

Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is more than a movie theater, though. Its cinemas serve up burgers, pizzas, chocolate chip cookies, custom cocktails, craft beers, and more right to moviegoers' seats.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn, Virginia.

The Detroit Board of Water Commissioners finance committee Wednesday afternoon approved the $1.5-million sale of 90, 102 and 114 Stimson to Detroit Rising. Sales proceeds are going to a fund to improve the regional water and sewer system.

Despite several offers for the property, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department chose Detroit Rising because of its plan to fill an entertainment void in the city and their high bid. The department had the property value marked at $1.3 million.

"We wanted to make sure the property was turned into taxable use that will also provide jobs to Detroiters," said Bryan Peckinpaugh, the water commissioners' public affairs manager. "We think this development plan will do so."

Before construction can begin, the City Council still needs to approve the development agreement.

Developers expect the complex to create 70 to 90 jobs once it opens. Ronnisch Construction Group now is working with architects on feasibility studies for the site. It anticipates construction to begin later this year.

The water and sewage department purchased the lots in 2000 for $500,000 with plans to move its headquarters there. As the Great Lakes Regional Water Authority took over the regional system from the department and it operates only the city's, the department decided to stay downtown, Peckinpaugh said.

The site joins several other development projects in the area, including renovations of the historic Hamilton residential property and construction of the West Elm Hotel.

“Our goal is to continue the development of Midtown, building a safe, walkable district with exciting new commercial options," Detroit Rising CEO Jonathan Hartzell said in a news release. "We think this could be a key part of that narrative."