GIBSONTON — The developer of the new Riverview 14 theater and retail center says the project will bring hundreds, if not thousands, of new jobs to the area.
Strathmore Development Co. vice president Terry Benton said at a groundbreaking last week that his Michigan real estate company already has lured T-Mobile and Dunkin' Donuts to the 30-acre project near Gibsonton Drive and Interstate 75.
A state-of-the-art, 14-screen multiplex theater and the Zaxby's chicken chain negotiated deals this year.
Benton, who promised more retail announcements in the coming months, confirmed he's in talks with several hotel operators who have expressed interest, and a number of national, regional and local restaurants and retailers drawn to the area by the exploding housing growth in the SouthShore market.
"With rooftop growth, there's a demand for entertainment, new restaurants, new shopping and retail venues that are close to home, and that's what this project is going to offer," Benton said. "This will be a little bit of excitement so you don't have to battle all the traffic (going north) on I-75."
Goodrich Quality Theaters, an independent movie theater chain with headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., will occupy almost 10 acres of the retail complex at a cost of around $20 million, according to Martin Betz, the company's chief operating officer.
Betz said his new-age movie theater, featuring 80-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling digital screens, Dolby sound, luxury reclining seats and a separate upscale family restaurant with a full bar and a culinary chef will sit just 3 miles south of the Xscape Riverview 14, which began construction at Progress Boulevard and Valley Dale Drive near the busy Bloomingdale shopping corridor.
"He'll have his customers, and we'll have ours," Betz said. "We've run competitive theaters against other theater chains for decades, and we're not trying to take away their business."
With a busy Walmart Supercenter already near I-75 and Gibsonton Drive, traffic will grow even busier once Riverview 14 opens around fall 2016.
Strathmore Development has promised Hillsborough County it will widen and add additional lanes to New East Bay Road and East Bay Road below Nundy Avenue, as well as construct a roundabout, instead of a traffic light at the Nundy Avenue intersection.
"We think this will help with the movement of traffic in and out," Benton said. "When you have a theater, there's a lot of people coming and going at certain times, and with a roundabout, a signal doesn't have to adjust to the peaks and valleys of the entrance and exit."
But resident Jerri Givens, who has owned a home on Nundy Avenue for the past 40 years and coped with all the surrounding construction, isn't so sure a roundabout is the answer to his traffic concerns.
"Coming out of Nundy, making a right or left, it's real hard to see cars coming, and if they're coming 45 or 50 miles an hour, there's been quite a few wrecks there," Givens said. "The roundabout might solve some problems, but it will be congested, I know."
Contact Kathryn Moschella at [email protected]