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10-Screen Multiplex Theater May Be Built At Old City Hall Location

by Ralph Nichols [1]

This week’s action by the King County Council that moves Burien’s planned park-and-ride transit center parking garage closer to reality also improves the possibility that the city may get a 10-screen cinema complex in Town Square.

The proposed multiplex, which would be located on the southwest corner of SW 150th St. and 4th Ave. SW, where the old city hall is located, would require the evening and weekend parking available at the 500-stall garage to be a viable attraction in Burien’s Town Square.

The transit center garage will be built on the northeast corner of SW 150th St. and 4th Ave. SW, across the intersection from the potential theater site. Additional theater parking would be available in the city’s municipal parking lot on SW 150th St. between 6th and 8th Ave. SW.

Los Angeles-based Galaxy Theater Group, whose 100-plus properties include a cinema and food court in Gig Harbor, would build and operate the cinema complex through an arrangement with Urban Partners, the private developer of Town Square.

Urban Partners proposed to the Burien City Council last fall that a multiplex theater, instead of a planned second condominium/retail complex, be built on the vacant Town Square parcel where the Burien/Interim Art Space was located.

A multiplex run by Galaxy Theaters may be built where the old city hall building sits.

The depressed housing and lending markets made it unlikely that a new condominium project could get started within the time frame required by their agreement with the city, principals of Urban Partners told council members.

Following this initial presentation to the City Council, Urban Partners, at the request of Galaxy Theater Group, recommended that the cinema complex be proposed instead for the Town Square parcel currently occupied by the old city hall to be closer to the transit parking garage.

And Galaxy has submitted to the city a preliminary building design configured to the shape of this parcel. It includes 10 screens, a food court – and a separate stage that community groups like Burien Little Theater could use for live productions.

Several council members expressed a strong interest in a stage for live public performances when Galaxy made its initial presentation to the city.

The proposed cinema complex, however, is far from a done deal. There is some concern among council members about building it instead of multi-family housing, as the original Town Square agreement called for, and about the long-term potential for success of such a theater in Burien.

Galaxy Theater Group says a cinema complex in Burien would be supported by a market area west of Interstate 5 from south Seattle to Federal Way with a population of 400,000.

City staff will have to review the proposed design and the City Council then must consider the Urban Partners-Galaxy Theater Group plan – which could include retail and office space – and approve it as an acceptable development alternative for Town Square before a cinema complex can become a reality there.

Should the City Council give a green light to the proposed cinema complex in the next few months, it could be built while the transit center parking garage is also under construction, with both opening at about the same time.

Meanwhile, one thing does seem certain, according to Dick Loman, Burien’s Economic Development Manager:

“We’re damn fortunate here to have this interest in continued development of downtown Burien as a major urban center. It’s exciting.”

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