Updated 

Movie theater plans to become Downtown Las Vegas' upscale neighbor


You can zipline, attend a concert and visit an art gallery in one night in downtown Las Vegas. But to catch a flick, you have to drive several miles to Henderson, North Las Vegas or Spring Valley.

That will change next spring — if plans come through.

Construction for a three-story, 72,000 square-foot cinema called Eclipse Theaters will begin by the end of the month according to Nic Steele, the project's manager. A specific groundbreaking date is still tentative, he said.

Each of the theater's eight screening rooms will have 50-90 large, extra-padded seats. The second floor will include a restaurant with a chef-inspired menu including alcohol. The third level will be reserved for VIPs and events.

There will be two types of theaters for guests: regular and premier. The latter will include wait service and full meals delivered to one's reclining seat for $19.

Tickets for a regular experience will cost about $14. Matinee tickets to similar high-end Las Vegas Valley theaters, such as the Regal in Downtown Summerlin, cost about $16.

However, the "VIP movie experience" has tried to move ahead at the corner of Third Street and Gass Avenue a few times since January 2014 with no success.

Originally set to open fall 2014, the nearly $21.1 million project was pushed back to fall 2015 and is now on its current schedule.

"Whenever you're doing a development, you want to do it right," Steele said. "It's not like opening up a corner store. There's a lot of moving pieces to the development."

FUNDING ECLIPSE

Financing the theater was no small task. In addition to Eclipse's own funding, two separate lenders contributed a combined $16.3 million to the project.

Both Stonehenge Community Development and Clearinghouse CDFI — a community development financial institution — had a part in the funding.

This is Stonehenge's first investment in Nevada. The company's vice president, Steven LeBlanc, said every dollar provided will help locals.

"We felt pretty strong about this project and the fact that it's going to create about 80 or so full-time jobs downtown as well as provide a different entertainment option that's not currently there," he said.

The project will also produce more than 200 construction jobs.

Clearinghouse contributed $8.3 million worth of state and federal tax credit funds as well as a $2.5 million loan to fund the deal.

The rest of Eclipse's bill will be financed by the theater itself, Steele said.

Eclipse has contracted AR Mays Construction as general contractor. The Arizona company also worked on the nearly 30-acre Wet 'n' Wild Las Vegas water park in Western Las Vegas.

LOCAL RECEPTION

Steele expressed enthusiasm while discussing theater plans.

"When you think about what a person thinks of a perfect date night experience, it always includes dinner and a movie," Steele said. "We want to offer that experience in one location and give guests a high level of service."

However, Downtown Las Vegas has the lowest annual median household income of the Las Vegas area with $22,479.

Some residents, such as Kathleen Kahr D'Esposito, wonder if local families will be able to afford the nearly $15 or $20 tickets.

"A lot of people with lower to middle incomes live in the area," she said. "If this project comes to fruition, I sincerely hope they keep their base customers' entertainment budget in mind."

Melissa Clary, who lives in Huntridge Neighborhood downtown, echoed that sentiment. But her optimism outweighed her concerns.

"While it could be seen as a tourist destination … it's also great entertainment for residents downtown who often get forgotten," she said.

Contact May Ortega at mortega@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908. Find her on Twitter: @MayVOrtega