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Thu, Oct. 17

3-D theater gets approval in Page
Proposed Williams site still undecided

PAGE - Council members in the city of Page are celebrating a proposed giant screen theater set to break ground as early as next spring. According to Page Vice Mayor John Cook, the theater may use IMAX technology, similar to plans for the proposed theater in Williams, though a firm decision has yet to be made. Council members in Page unanimously approved the sale of city-owned land to the Huntley Group. Officials with the group then plan to sell off a portion of that land to theater developers.

That land purchase, Cook said, will go before Page City Council for a second "reading" tomorrow.

"The land is being purchased by a development group - the Huntley group," Cook said. "It's our understanding that the IMAX (group) will purchase some of the property from them."

Developer Richard James will spearhead the project, Cook said. James has developed other theater locations in Arizona as well, including the IMAX Theater located in Tusayan. Cook believes the theater would provide an attraction to the area that might keep people in town longer.

"We're looking at it to attract visitors, to keep visitors and it's perfect for the bus tours that are on the Grand Circle. It will have a rather large commercial facility inside it, they call it the re-creation of a typical trading post, much in the same vein as Cameron," Cook said. "Page is unique in that, when we were granted Home Rule from the Bureau of Reclamation, we were deeded several thousand acres of land. That has been, quite frankly, one of the godsends for the fiscal survival of Page. Most all of the undeveloped property in Page is owned by the City."

The theater is proposed for a location near the Glen Canyon Dam along Lake Powell Boulevard, according to Cook.

"It's an outstanding location," he said. "The fact that they chose Page has us extremely excited."

A specially tailored film may screen at the Page location, akin to the idea for the MacGillivray-Freeman film slated for the Williams location.

"There will be a specialized film," Cook said. "In all honesty it's specialized for the Grand Circle. It will feature the dam, the lake, but more importantly, the geology and geography of the area."

In addition to working with the University of Utah, the theater may also become the new host for the John Wesley Powell Museum, Cook said.

The 3-D theater in Williams, meanwhile, has been tabled for further review. Council passed on a decision during their last regularly scheduled meeting Oct. 11 due to the absence of Councilman Don Dent.

Paul Fraser, president of Blaze Partners L.L.C., said there are no plans to put the theater back on council's agenda at this time. Fraser asked council members to vote on the location for the proposed theater during the Oct. 11 council meeting. With a firm commitment on the property in place, Fraser hoped to move forward with other aspects of the deal, including negotiations for the lease of the property with city of Williams officials.

"We decided that it was probably best to not automatically add us to the next session," Fraser said. "Our thinking being that we are continuing to revise our plans. Out of respect for everyone's time, there's some more information that we can all be gathering. When we come back, perhaps we can move beyond seeking a conditional approval."

Fraser represents MacGillivray-Freeman Films, producers of the 3-D film "Grand Canyon Adventure 3-D," (GC3D) a film that theater officials hoped would be located along Railroad Avenue between the Williams-Forest Service Visitor's Center and the Williams Recreation Center. While members of Williams City Council said they favored the idea of a 3-D theater overall, some questioned the location for the project. Lease of the land, city officials have said, would be contingent upon the sale of property between the City of Williams and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). The BNSF land would provide further parking for the theater should the sale go through, officials said. Theater officials, meanwhile, have said they would not build in Williams should the Railroad Avenue location fall through. A decision on the BNSF land could come within the next few weeks.

Fraser said the acquisition of that land was one of the reasons he opted not to appear before council tomorrow, though a rescheduled date has not been set.

"We don't have a date. It really hinges on the pertinent information," Fraser said.

The theater in Page, he added, would have no impact on MacGillivray-Freeman's project for Williams. Nor is the GC3D film slated to appear in Page, he added.

"There's been no conversation. The theater doesn't exist yet," Fraser said.

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