Council approves incentive package for movie theatre

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Greenville City Council was unanimous on Monday night in accepting a resolution offering an incentive package to NAOS Entertainment, LLC to construct an eight-screen movie theatre inside the city.

The council's approval followed a public hearing where a number of voices were raised in support of the theatre with just few voicing dissent.

The council's chambers was filled to capacity as student leaders from Greenville High School presented Mayor Dexter McLendon and the council with a petition of 445 signatures supporting the building of the city's first film theatre since closure of the Ritz Theatre in the late 70s.

&#8220I want to thank the council. No matter how hard I work on something it would be all for naught if the council wasn't here to back me up,” said McLendon. &#8220I know there's several who would like us to have long, drawn out meetings where we fight all the time and get nothing accomplished, but we work together. No matter who tries to stop me, I'm not going to stop working and doing what I'm doing.”

Marty Felts, President of NAOS, said he was anxious to start construction of the $6 million structure, which will be the company's flagship movie theatre in Alabama. Felts said he has a target opening date of June 29, but unforeseen delays may push that date back to July 15.

&#8220We hope to start construction full-force within the next three weeks,” said Felts.

The company's corporate headquarters will also locate in Greenville, said Felts. In the peak summer months, Felts said at least 40 part-time workers - the majority of them students from Butler County schools - would be employed as ticket agents and concession clerks.

Incentives offered to NAOS includes:

N The construction of a street to be known as Greenville Commons on the specified property at an estimated cost to the city of $525,000.

N All sales tax on concessions and movie tickets will be retained by NAOS for seven years, after which the city of Greenville will began receiving all sales tax revenue generated by the theatre.

N The council shall enact an ordinance imposing a movie surtax of $1 per movie ticket sold by NAOS and the proceeds of that tax shall be retained by NAOS until after seven years. The city shall then receive twenty-five cents from the surtax, while the company shall retain seventy-five cents.

Felts assured the council and the public that even with the $1 surtax the cost of movie tickets at the theatre would be reasonably priced.

N The city will rent two billboards for the period of one year advertising the theatre, one within 50 miles north of Greenville on I-65 and one 50 miles south of Greenville on I-65.

N The city will purchase approximately 3.5 acres of land at the cost of $246,000 adjacent to the lot occupied by theatre for the purpose of constructing a water tank.

N NAOS shall repay the cost of the 3.5 acres of land at the rate of $50,000 per year with four percent interest on the full purchase price.

N The city will insure that water, sewer and other utilities are available to the lot occupied by the theatre.

Councilman Ed Sims said the only real money the city would be paying out would be for road construction and the theatre itself would draw more businesses to the land located directly beside Wal-Mart.

&#8220And we'll be paid back the $246,000 plus interest so I don't really see a problem,” he said.

Councilman Tommy Ryan assured those at the council meeting that he had given the theatre considerable attention, but made his decision based on a presentation by City Attorney Richard Hartley concerning what incentives NAOS would receive.

&#8220To tell you the truth, I really had not made up my mind prior to hearing Mr. (Richard) Hartley's information,” he said.