San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas



by ANDY SEVILLA

A month after an entertainment complex – featuring a movie theater, bowling lanes, video arcade, meeting rooms and a restaurant – agreed to break ground in Kyle, a second similar project is now stealing its thunder.

A San Marcos group, Texas Cinema, submitted an application for a Conditional Use Permit for their proposed 75,000-square-foot entertainment center. The facility is proposed to feature an 11-screen movie theater, 14-lane bowling center, game area with 40-plus arcade and redemption games, multi-story laser tag, and full-scale restaurant and bar, according to Mitchell Roberts, who is heading the proposed project.

Roberts said the “unique” family entertainment complex would provide $8 million in taxable revenue to the city, as well as many employment opportunities for the residents and students of Hays County.

But can the Kyle market support two similar entertainment complexes?

Economic Development Director Diana Blank said the city’s market could “successfully” support one movie theater/entertainment complex, but it would be “difficult to support two.”

In a special city council meeting June 20, council members unanimously approved entering into a development agreement with Schulman Partners Ltd., for the construction of the first proposed entertainment facility – which features a movie theater, bowling lanes, video arcade, meeting rooms and a restaurant – scheduled to open its doors by next summer at the Villages of Kyle Shopping Center, adjacent to the Target store.

The owner of the second proposed project, David Roberts, submitted a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application to the city’s planning department on July 18, according to city documents. That proposed project is slated to break ground in the Kyle Towne Center subdivision and also open its doors by next summer.

Mitchell Roberts said his office has been working on the proposed entertainment center for “quite some time,” and they have now obtained financing for their proposed $13 million project and are coming to Kyle with their plans.

The Kyle Planning and Zoning Commission will take up Roberts’ CUP application at its August 13 meeting.

In the development agreement the city entered into with Schulman Partners, LTD, which has not yet been made public, council members offered up financial incentives spanning over a 15-year period, according to a June 21 city news release.

The development agreement includes financial incentives in the form of property tax and sales tax rebates, as well as waivers for city development fees. City officials estimated the total value of the incentives to the developer at $1.1 million.

Blank told the Hays Free Press in June she spent the last six years negotiating a deal mutually beneficial to Schulman Partners and the city, and said that “it’s been a long time coming, but it was worth it.”

Blank said that in the past while looking for movie theater interests to come to town, Cinemark told her the Kyle market was not ready. Now, Texas Cinema, which is not part of Cinemark corporate but related through family, is ready to break ground in town.

Blank said Schulman Partners have not pulled out of their project, and instead are tweaking their plans to get moving faster.

Texas Cinema, owned and headquartered in Hays County, has been “providing quality entertainment for 35 years,” with theaters in San Marcos and New Braunfels, Roberts said, adding that he is “extremely excited to bring an entertainment venue of such quality to the city of Kyle.”

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ANDY SEVILLA reports for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Free Press and the San Marcos Mercury.

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15 thoughts on “Movie complexes race to open first in Kyle

  1. So a subsidized development is competing with a largely identical unsubsidized development?

  2. I wonder how much the Roberts have already spent and I wonder if they were talking to Ms. Blank about the incentives being offered to Schulman. I’d love this to be made into a supreme court case with the net result of severely limiting government incentives to retailers/service providers.

  3. Perhaps the Roberts would consider cleaning up the stench of mold and mildew that permeates the Starplex in San Marcos, before spending millions out of town. The local theater is nasty, and the reason we go to the movies in Austin or New Braunfels…

  4. Perhaps we should consider making government subsidies to private for profit businesses illegal across the board. I know this will never happen, of course, but I at least wish all the “small government” Republicans who happily turn over tax dollars to rich investors (notice how the incentives never seem to go to mom and pop businesses?) would shut their mouths about this subject. You are not small government, you have no clue what that actually means.

  5. Back in the ’80s incentives were just for manufacturers and other limited job creators. Eligible businesses were gradually added and now here we are.

  6. Meanwhile, the Alamo Drafthouse that should have ended up at the now-rotting Springtown is headed to New Braunfels. This just keeps getting better.

    Regarding incentives, I’m in violent agreement with those who want to limit abatements and givebacks for new businesses. It makes sense if you have a Grifols type of employer who is locating here to provide actual salaried, career-level jobs to people. Incentives make sense because employers like that have plenty of options as to where they locate — and let’s face it, with San Marcos schools the way they are, we need that extra shot in the arm to attract large employers.

    But entertainment and retail businesses are different animals. They’ll locate where they have a market, period. And the jobs they provide are minimum wage, often part-time positions that do not a career make. (This is the same problem I have with apartment complex developers arguing they create jobs, which is a specious claim because once construction is done they actually only employ a couple property managers and sales agents, plus one or two maintenance guys. What they really create is cash flow. For the developer.)

    I am a small business owner myself and believe me, I am not against entrepreneurs making a buck. I personally find capital success to be exciting, and I love to see it happen to others. But to hand out tax abatements to entertainment complexes that generate a bunch of hourly wage jobs? No thanks. If companies see an opportunity to make a profit by opening a business in a community, then they’ll do it. If they don’t and the market opportunity still exists, then someone else will. The fact that Kyle has a consumer base capable and willing to spend money on this type of entertainment is all the incentive these business should need.

  7. You have a conflict Tarl. If the Alamo Drafthouse should have been here it would have. That is, if their market analysis is accurate. The only way it would end up here if it should not have is through government subsidies – and that would have been unfair to the Robert’s family.

  8. SMsince95, you are correct. My love of eating stuff while watching movies has clouded my logic. Thanks for pointing it out.

    That said, there’s at least one argument for placing Alamo at Springtown…revitalizing an empty retail center. But if I were to advocate providing incentives for that purpose, that would run counter to my previous statements. So I’ll resist the temptation and keep my mouth shut. Or I’ll fill it with food and watch a movie.

  9. It is frustrating to see so much more development around San Marcos. The development that does come to San Marcos seems to not do as well. I just hope they eventually do SOMETHING with the old Springtown location. It is a TERRIBLE eyesore.

  10. Have we even managed to get the restrictions lifted on the Springtown property? If I recall correctly, part of the problem was that Target (whom we paid to move) had placed restrictions on the property, which did not allow for a movie theater, or something along those lines.

    Does anyone remember the details, and know if anything was done to resolve all that?

  11. Ted, I don’t believe a movie theater was included in the restrictions. I think it was restricted against businesses that would reasonably compete with Target. That may be a reason why HEB did not move into it rather than rehab their existing location. Notice I said MAY and A reason. I don’t have any idea if they even considered it. It was just wishful thinking on my part. It would have made a compelling discussion about the appropriateness of incentives for retailers. If we financially encouraged HEB to take the old Target space it would have almost certainly revitalized Springtown.

  12. I think it was businesses that do not compliment Target, like a movie theater, where people fill the parking lot for hours, and don’t go to any stores, or buy anything.

    It’s been a long time, but that is my recollection.

  13. Whatever the restrictions, has any attempt been made to get them lifted?

    Again, going on fading memory, I believe Target put those restrictions in place. I would think they have the ability to lift them.

  14. If our deed records were online like they are in Williamson County we could study the deed without going down to the County Palace, going through the metal detector and speaking through a plate of glass to have someone fetch a deed for us.

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